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Coordinating Working Party on Fishery Statistics (CWP)

Nationality of catch and landings

In 1954 the United Nations Statistical Commission decided that fish catches should be assigned to the country of the flag flown by the fishing vessel. This concept was adopted by CWP (and hence its member agencies) and, as a result, any change in this concept would have serious adverse effects on the continuity of catch data. It should be noted that "flag country" generally refers to the country in which the vessel (which may be small and not physically flying a flag) is registered.

The CWP recommends:

  • that the flag of the vessel performing the essential part of the fishing operation catching the fish, should be considered the paramount indication of the nationality assigned to the catch data, and that indication is over-ridden only when one of the following arrangements between a foreign flag vessel and the host country exists:
    1. the vessel is chartered by the host country to augment its fishing fleet; or
    2. the vessel fishes for the country by joint venture contracts or similar agreements (as opposed to the ad-hoc practice of a vessel selling catches to a foreign vessel or landing catches at a foreign port) and the operation of such vessel is an integral part of the economy of the host country;
  • that when governments negotiate joint ventures or other contracts in which vessels of one country land their catches at ports of another country, and one of the above-mentioned criteria is applicable, the assignment of nationality to such catches and landings data should be specified in the agreement. There are situations (not exclusive) in which difficulties in assigning a nationality might exist such as transfer of catch either at sea or in port between vessels flying different flags, when a vessel, flies a flag of convenience, when there is a joint venture. However, the CWP advises that, although there are some difficulties, the flag of the fishing vessel is the best available criterion for the assignment of nationality to catch and landings data.

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