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For many years, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has assisted national fisheries administrations in addressing the issues they confront in managing and developing fisheries. This paper is intended to enhance and update FAO Fisheries Technical Paper, No. 338, entitled An introduction to monitoring, control and surveillance for capture fisheries.[1] Since the release of the earlier paper, many new legal concepts and agreements have been forged in the international community and new management trends have emerged that affect monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) policies, planning and operations. The present paper is intended to present these changes and to encourage fisheries administrations to update their practices accordingly.

To this end, the paper provides background on MCS strategies that should be taken into account as part of continuing efforts to deal with three basic problem areas facing fisheries administrators today - namely:

a) the inability of many governments to monitor and control fisheries in waters under the jurisdiction of their State;

b) the maintenance of "open access" fisheries, despite the difficulties for both fisheries managers and MCS personnel to regulate this type of fishery; and

c) the lack of effective regional structures and organizations to manage international fisheries.

Options and guidelines are offered on how to strengthen MCS capability within states, subregions or regions. The paper expands on current MCS-related literature (see Annex A) and provides references for more detailed advice in certain areas. It focuses on MCS for both coastal and offshore fisheries and deals with both national and foreign-owned fleets. Topics discussed include the following.

a) an overview of MCS, definitions of its activity components, the role of MCS in fisheries management, recent trends in MCS, and the relationships between the land, sea, and air components of an MCS scheme Chapter 1, following sections);

b) the legal basis for MCS activities and how this can be strengthened and enforced (Chapter 2);

c) design considerations for the components of an MCS system (Chapter 3);

d) organizational considerations for MCS (Chapter 4);

e) management measures, consultation and planning (Chapter 5);

f) MCS operational procedures and equipment (Chapter 6);

g) patrols, boardings, inspections and prosecution (Chapter 7); and

h) MCS issues for coastal resource management (Chapter 8).

1.1 Overview - Status and Challenges

In the past, fisheries administrators have viewed MCS as little more than the policing of the various maritime zones controlled by the State. This paper attempts to provide a broader view of MCS - a view of MCS as the vital executive arm of fisheries management.

The rapid depletion of key fish stocks in the 1980s and 1990s has made it imperative that governments achieve greater control over fishing activities. At the international level, a number of new agreements have created a stronger legal basis on which to develop greater control. At the same time, new technological developments have facilitated the remote monitoring of fishing vessels and the collection of fisheries data.

The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which entered into force in 1994, forms the backbone of the international legal framework for fisheries management. It sets out the rights and duties of coastal, port and flag States in respect of each of the principal maritime zones recognized by international law, namely the territorial sea, the exclusive economic zone and the high seas. It also deals with a range of other important issues that are related, including the legal regimes applicable to internal waters, archipelagic waters, the contiguous zone, the continental shelf, and the right of innocent passage and passage through international straits.

The provisions of UNCLOS relating to fisheries, though widely accepted even before the Convention entered into force, did not prevent the depletion of several valuable fish stocks. For this reason, the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) called urgently for the development of further instruments that would be necessary to re-establish and maintain sustainable fisheries worldwide.

One of these new instruments is the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 Relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks (the UN Fish Stocks Agreement), which entered into force on 11 December 2001. As discussed more fully in Chapter 2, the UN Fish Stocks Agreement sets forth a broad range of obligations designed to create greater control over fisheries for certain valuable stocks, including the strengthening of MCS capabilities.

Chapter 2 also reviews the pertinent aspects of several other new instruments developed under the auspices of FAO, including:

a) the 1993 Agreement to Promote Compliance with International Conservation and Management Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas (FAO Compliance Agreement);

b) the 1995 Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF);

c) four International Plans of Action dealing with various aspects of fisheries management, and particularly the International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing; and

d) guidelines for the marking and identification of fishing vessels.

Ideally, each State would implement the 1982 Convention and the more recent agreements through the development of a national "oceans policy." Such a policy would establish government priorities and the strategy for the conservation and sustainable use of all marine resources within the maritime zones over which the State exercises sovereignty or sovereign rights, as well as efforts towards cooperative management of fisheries that occur outside these zones. From this oceans policy would flow the integrated oceans planning and management framework under which fisheries management plans would be developed.

Most States see this as a long-term development initiative. To shorten the process, they have chosen to develop oceans policy and fisheries management strategies (including MCS strategies) simultaneously. Consequently, although States recognize that fisheries management must be integrated into an overall oceans policy when it is ultimately established, the MCS systems required to implement fisheries management plans are being developed in the interim to address the more immediate need to protect fish stocks and their habitats. This strategy is commendable. A "precautionary approach" recognizes that a first requirement for fisheries resource conservation is to prevent further degradation of the resource base.

The degree to which a government becomes involved in the fishing industry will have an impact on fisheries management and the resultant MCS activities. For example, a government can:

a) assume a controlling role, where it actually runs the industry, impacts the potential income of fishers, and micro-regulates the harvesting sector; or

b) maintain a less intrusive or co-management role, whereby the fishers and the fishing industry are encouraged to accept their resource responsibilities and roles within the framework of general government conservation principles and legislation.

Negative results of centralised, micro-management control mechanisms have become evident in both industrialised and developing States. Consequently, there is an emerging trend toward the second, participatory co-management approach. Fishers and the fishing industry want, and in fact are demanding, a more active role in management planning and implementation. Central governments are responding by devolving authority to smaller units of government (provinces, districts and municipalities) and by fostering community-based management, stakeholder involvement, and the acceptance of responsibility for the care, conservation and protection of their local marine resources by the fishers and industry. In a growing number of cases, such as the Canadian experience described in Profile 1, the private sector is also becoming involved in MCS activities.

1.1.1 Misperceptions of MCS

Misperceptions surrounding MCS activities continue to impact how fishers and even fishery managers view the process of MCS and enforcement. A common misperception is that all fisheries problems stem either from a failure to control illegal foreign fishing, or from the fishers themselves. While foreign fishing fleets have had documented impacts on fisheries conservation efforts, the greater impact on fisheries often stems from the domestic fishing industry in the coastal and nearshore fishing zones.

On the issue of fishers, fisheries administrators must remember that most are hard working individuals often working in a hazardous environment:

While sometimes libellously assumed by the ill-informed to be crooks, [fishers] are perhaps best described as being as honest as the next man, but hard, individualistic businessmen running very competitive and often highly capitalized operations. It is worth remembering that they do so in the face of a largely unforgiving sea that creates a working environment which ... [has one of the worst industrial accident rates in the world], and [that] ... they operate increasingly in an economic climate of ever increasing overheads countered only by the proceeds of catches which [are] subjected to [ever greater] quota restriction. All of this is done in the knowledge that the success of their venture and the livelihood of their crews depends entirely on their individual skill, effort and initiative. Given these pressures, it is perhaps not surprising that such independent minds do not always take kindly to bureaucratic controls, especially if these appear to them to have little practical purpose.[2]

Another erroneous perception is that MCS is exclusively concerned with enforcement - thus ignoring the other two components of monitoring (data collection) and control (legislation, licensing, and controls on gear, season, areas, etc.). In focussing only on the "surveillance/enforcement" or deterrent aspects of MCS, fisheries administrators and supporting agencies cannot harness the full utility of MCS as the vital executive arm of fisheries management.

1.1.2 Civilian versus military involvement in MCS

The expense of MCS activities is often a primary concern of any government designing and implementing an MCS system. Cost-effectiveness and efficiency is important if MCS operations are to be successful. A civilian approach to deterrent fisheries enforcement has proven in many cases to be the most cost-effective and responsive to fisheries priorities. Use of civilian assets also minimizes the political sensitivity of international fisheries incidents by avoiding the use of military equipment and personnel.

Those fisheries administrators who must rely on the use of military resources to carry out MCS activities may find that military agencies often accord low priority to that task.

Moreover, military involvement, except in a support role, is usually not cost-effective. Military aircraft and vessels are more expensive to build and operate than equivalent civilian equipment. Savings accrue from the use of a civilian vessel with fewer crew, and lower operating costs.

For many governments, however, the military can play a significant supporting role in a strong MCS system. The key for such governments is to establish an inter-agency mechanism that enables fisheries administrators to call upon their military counterparts as and when needed.

1.1.3 Fisheries as a lead ministry

Effectiveness of operations can be enhanced considerably if a single ministry is designated to take the lead role in MCS activities. This significantly reduces the lines of communications for the command and control of the monitoring and surveillance components of MCS activities, making them more efficient and responsive to management needs. As noted above, however, a number of different agencies may be called upon in a supporting role. In such situations, effective MCS requires a strong inter-agency control mechanism.

Profile 1. Private Sector involvement in MCS - the Canadian Example
Canada's Fisheries MCS Program
Paul Steele
Chief, Enforcement Programmes
Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada

In Canada, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has been entrusted by the Parliament of Canada through the Fisheries Act and the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act to administer all laws relating to fisheries. The administration of federal fisheries laws has, by agreement, been delegated to some, but not all, provincial governments. DFO remains responsible for fisheries management in the tidal waters of the Pacific, Atlantic, Arctic, the inland waters of four Atlantic provinces and the salmon rivers in British Columbia. This includes management of Aboriginal, Recreational and Commercial fisheries within Canada's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), in transboundary rivers, and for sedentary species on the continental shelf outside the Canadian EEZ.


· 58 400 commercial fishers (42 700 Atlantic, 8 700 Pacific and 7 000 inland)

· commercial harvest > 1 000 000 mt

· landed value approximately $1.9 billion (shellfish account for approximately 75% of the total landed value, with groundfish and pelagic fisheries making up the remainder)

· 5 million Canadians and 900 000 visitors/year for the recreational fishery

· catch over 250 million fish in recreational fisheries, with more than half of the fish released under the catch and release regime

· over 125 fisheries agreements are negotiated with Aboriginal groups in Canada on an annual basis to provide for aboriginal access to fisheries and an orderly management of their fishing activities.

Management Systems/Control Mechanisms

Various management schemes have been applied in different fisheries, but all are based on limited entry licensing, with vessel and gear restrictions. Other measures to limit catches include total allowable catches (e.g. groundfish), escapement targets (salmon), or recruitment strategies (e.g. lobster). Other management measures include limitations on fishing area, fishing season, gear (e.g. mesh size), incidental catch (bycatch) and minimum fish sizes. Rights-based systems - in the form of Enterprise Allocations (EA) and Individual Quotas (IQ) - have been introduced in some fisheries to allow fishers more efficiently to manage the capacity and effort for harvesting.

MCS Program

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Conservation and Protection program ensures compliance with the legislation, regulations and fishing plans. This requires an integrated MCS approach and deployment of some 600 Fishery Officers for air, sea and land patrols; independent/private sector observer coverage on fishing vessels; dockside monitoring of fish landings; and remote electronic monitoring of fishing vessel activity.

DFO operates a fleet of patrol vessels on each coast to enforce closed areas and boundary lines, and to conduct inspections at sea for compliance purposes. Contracted aircraft are used to monitor fishing fleets. Sea and aerial surveillance is also supplemented by the Department of National Defence (DND). VMS and air surveillance provide for more effective deployment of patrol vessels; with the latter also serving as a visible deterrence. Canada deploys private sector, contracted observers, without enforcement powers, on all foreign vessels fishing in Canadian waters and on some Canadian vessels to gather scientific information and provide on-site monitoring of compliance. They are trained to detect and report infractions such as dumping/discarding, fishing in closed areas, catch misreporting, retention of prohibited catch and the use of illegal gear. The level of observer coverage in domestic fisheries varies depending on conservation risks and management priorities. Contracted dockside monitors/observers verify the quantity and species/product form of fish landed for scientific, quota monitoring and compliance reasons. This data is cross-checked by random inspections by Fishery Officers at landing sites. At-sea observer costs are shared by the Department and the fishing industry. Dockside monitoring costs are entirely paid by the fishing industry. In 1999, DFOs expenditures on fisheries enforcement amounted to CDN $70 million (including DFOs share of at-sea observer costs).

The Conservation and Protection program has been significantly re-oriented in recent years. The mix of enforcement resources has been altered to better respond to changing program requirements. For example, a number of larger patrol vessels have been replaced with smaller program boats that can be operated more efficiently by the Fishery Officers themselves. Savings from vessel reductions have been partially re-invested in new equipment and surveillance technologies. Significant investments have also been made in the creation of new enforcement data systems and the integration of existing systems, with the goal of providing Fishery Officers and managers with more accurate and timely information that will strengthen the Department's enforcement capabilities. These efforts at improving data integration and analysis will continue to be a priority for the immediate future. The Conservation and Protection program is closely integrated with DFOs overall Fisheries Management Program. Input and advice from fisheries enforcement officials is an important consideration in the development of Integrated Fisheries Management Plans (IFMPs). In future these plans will include specific conservation objectives as identified by DFO scientists in consultation with fishers and other technical experts. The new Objectives Based Fisheries Management strategy will require greater involvement by the fishing industry to design management measures that will minimize identified risks to conservation.

1.1.4 MCS tools for management

Key tools for MCS as the executive arm of fisheries management include:

a) an appropriate participatory management plan developed with stakeholder input;

b) enforceable[3] legislation and control mechanisms (licences etc.);

c) data collection systems - dockside monitoring, observers, sea and port inspections, etc.;

d) supporting communications system;

e) patrol vessels capable of extended operating to remain at sea with the fishing fleets;

f) aircraft available for rapid deployment to efficiently search large areas;

g) use, where appropriate, of new technology (VMS, satellite, video, infra-red tracking, etc.);

h) linked, land-based monitoring;

i) support of the industry and fishers;

j) bilateral, subregional and regional cooperation with other MCS components; and

k) professional staff.

These tools will be discussed in greater detail in later chapters, but the importance of professional staff should be highlighted at the outset. The development of a professional MCS staff is the most important, but often least talked about component of a comprehensive MCS plan. A credible staff with a high degree of integrity and professionalism will ensure the success of the system. The use of preventive (voluntary compliance) MCS techniques in a participatory management approach is effective when combined with more traditional MCS approaches to deterrent and enforcement. Through training, MCS staff will become competent as communicators, planners, community/stakeholder educators, and implementers of approved management plans.

Rigid hulled inflatable for fisheries

Inter-Agency Communications - Indonesia

1.2 Definition of MCS

Fisheries are critical to the development of a State's plan to conserve and utilise marine resources, as fish and their habitat are significant renewable resources in the territorial sea and exclusive economic zone. The goal of fisheries management, including MCS, is to maximise the economic opportunities and benefits from the State's waters within sustainable harvesting limits. Fisheries MCS needs to be defined in light of this goal.

An MCS Conference of Experts organized by FAO in 1981 developed a definition of MCS that is commonly accepted by fisheries personnel:

a) monitoring - the continuous requirement for the measurement of fishing effort characteristics and resource yields;

b) control - the regulatory conditions under which the exploitation of the resource may be conducted; and

c) surveillance - the degree and types of observations required to maintain compliance with the regulatory controls imposed on fishing activities.[4]

Simply stated, MCS is the mechanism for implementation of agreed policies, plans or strategies for oceans and fisheries management.[5] MCS is an aspect of oceans and fisheries management that is often undervalued. In reality, it is key to the successful implementation of any planning strategy. The absence of MCS operations render a fisheries management scheme incomplete and ineffective.

Since the 1981 MCS Conference, the definition of MCS has been enhanced to promote the concept that MCS covers more than just fisheries enforcement - it is an integral and key component for the implementation of fisheries management plans. It encompasses not only traditional enforcement activities but also the development and establishment of both data collection systems, the enactment of legislative instruments and the implementation of the management plan through participatory techniques and strategies. A 1993 workshop in Ghana offered the following clarifications.

a) Monitoring includes the collection, measurement and analysis of fishing activity including, but not limited to: catch, species composition, fishing effort, bycatch, discards, area of operations, etc. This information is primary data that fisheries managers use to arrive at management decisions. If this information is unavailable, inaccurate or incomplete, managers will be handicapped in developing and implementing management measures.

b) Control involves the specification of the terms and conditions under which resources can be harvested. These specifications are normally contained in national fisheries legislation and other arrangements that might be nationally, subregionally, or regionally agreed. The legislation provides the basis for which fisheries management arrangements, via MCS, are implemented. For maximum effect, framework legislation should clearly state the management measures being implemented and define the requirements and prohibitions that will be enforced.

c) Surveillance involves the regulation and supervision of fishing activity to ensure that national legislation and terms, conditions of access, and management measures are observed. This activity is critical to ensure that resources are not over exploited, poaching is minimized and management arrangements are implemented.[6]

These wider definitions amplify the importance of all aspects of MCS.

1.3 Role of MCS in Fisheries Management

A question often asked is: "Where do fisheries management and MCS merge?"

Fisheries management in its simplest terms comprise the following activities:

a) Data collection and analysis - data for management planning and operations from socio-economic studies, rural development studies, fisheries population studies, fisheries research cruises, licensing (national, provincial and district), catch and effort/logbooks, onboard observers (if established as a program), dockside monitoring/landings, VMS, satellite imaging, inspections at sea and in port, etc.

b) Participatory management planning - planning of fisheries management policies and strategies at the national level, and detailed planning for management zones or areas with input from stakeholders (provinces, districts and fishers).

c) Establishing a regulatory framework - The management plans need to be supported by appropriate legal instruments by means of which the plans are implemented. These legal instruments detail all the control mechanisms available for fisheries management including, but not limited to:

i) Input controls - such as access (number of fishers, number of vessels by fishery), licences, closed seasons, gear restrictions, vessel limitations, area restrictions (Protected Areas), VMS requirements, and vessel identification.

ii) Operational and output controls - such as species and catch limits, by-catch limits, reporting requirements, air surveillance, sea patrols/inspections, boarding, logbooks, dockside monitoring, observers, port inspections, and catch documentation schemes.

d) Implementation - this includes such measures as:

i) participatory community-based management (CBM);

ii) "preventive" MCS activities to encourage voluntary compliance;

iii) public awareness and education campaigns;

iv) assistance to small scale fishers for supplemental livelihood development to reduce coastal area pressures;

v) full enforcement to ensure compliance by those minority of fishers that persist in ignoring the law.

Similarly, MCS involves:

a) data collection and analyses for both operational planning and execution, as well as management planning, defined as monitoring (M);

b) involvement in the participatory management planning to include discussions on appropriate implementing mechanisms;

c) development and approval of appropriate and enforceable legislative instruments and control mechanisms such as licences, permitted fishing gear, seasons, vessel sizes, fish sizes, species, catch limits, by-catch limits, and area controls, or other restrictions to support the management plan, referred to as the control mechanisms (C); and

d) implementation of the plan through "preventive" and "deterrent" MCS techniques, included in the idea of surveillance (S).

Unfortunately, not all fisheries administrators understand MCS, or its critical role as an implementing mechanism for fisheries management. Some view arrests as the only relevant indication of the effectiveness of MCS efforts.[7] The real indicator for MCS is the level of compliance, and this is governed by many factors, e.g. the number of fishers; the number of vessels; effort and area coverage of patrols; results of patrols, increase in voluntary compliance, etc.

Effective MCS involves a two-pronged, parallel approach. The preventive approach is to encourage "voluntary compliance" through understanding and support for the management strategies and this includes:

a) enhancement of community/fisher awareness and understanding of management practices and MCS through seminars, public awareness and information, education, and communication campaigns;

b) participatory management development to promote ownership of the management regime and input into the regulatory/control aspect of management (laws and regulations) in preparation for acceptance by the fishers of their joint "stewardship" role for the management of their fisheries in partnership with government;

c) peer pressure towards voluntary compliance and support for the management regime;

d) the institution of accurate and verifiable data collection regimes; and

e) surveillance and verification for compliance.

The parallel approach of deterrent/enforcement MCS is necessary to ensure compliance by fishers who resist the regulatory regime to the detriment of both the fishery and the economic returns to their fellow fishers. Deterrent and enforcement include inspection, investigation, prevention and court proceedings to enforce the law. Voluntary compliance will fail if stakeholders see non-compliant fishers successfully evading the law and receiving economic returns from their illegal activity, at the expense of the fishers who comply with all requirements.

Key MCS components and their advantages and disadvantages are summarized in tabular form in Annex B.

Namibia has used an effective mix of input and output controls to build a very successful fisheries management regime in the short period since independence was declared in 1989 (see Profile 2).

1.4 Emerging Trends in MCS

Trends over in the past decade have significantly altered fisheries management in general and MCS strategies in particular. These have occurred in three areas - viz: devolution of authority to lower levels of government; the encouragement of participatory management; and new technology.

1.4.1 Devolution of authority

Fisheries management can no longer be the sole responsibility of central governments. Rapid population growth, urbanisation and migration to coastal areas have created a greater need for local governmental units to address local fisheries management concerns. Growing literacy and educational levels, coupled with easy access to mass media, have helped ordinary citizens to acquire more knowledge of government processes and a desire for more transparency and a greater voice in decision-making. Central governments have responded by devolving more authority over fisheries management to provinces, states, districts, municipalities and communities.

This devolution of authority has vitally affected MCS. In the past, central governments controlled, or at least sought to control, all MCS activities on a national basis. Today, a more typical role for a central government is to set national policies and standards and to co-ordinate the implementation of these policies and standards. Responsibility for actually carrying out MCS activities is now typically shared by central governments with smaller governmental units. Central governments also monitor and evaluate local government performance to enhance future coordination and planning. MCS planning and operations still need this national coordination for consistency in implementation of management plans, and for conflict resolution. However, the overall trend is for central governments to devolve responsibility for MCS activities to lower levels of governmental authority.

Profile 2. Input and output controls for management - the Namibian example
Capt. Per Erik Bergh
Special Adviser to the Permanent Secretary for Fisheries - Namibia

Namibia, a State six times the size of the United Kingdom and with a population of 1.7 million, is on the West Coast of Africa just north of South Africa. It has a coastline of 700 nautical miles (1 500 km) and an EEZ of 275 000 km2. Since independence in 1989, Namibia has developed a progressive fisheries administration and a thriving commercial capture fisheries that is increasingly Namibian.

The fishing industry is based on the high productivity of the up-welling Benguela Current system. Fisheries contributed more than US$50 million (10% Namibia's GDP) in 1999 and employed some 15 000 people. By law, all fish are landed in Namibia through its two ports, Walvis Bay and Lüderitz. Namibia is one of the few major fishing nations that earns more income and creates more jobs from the processing sector than from the catching of fish. This is partly due to policies such as the requirement for onshore processing of hake and other species. Namibia is recovering all expenses related to its fisheries administration and MCS operations through the collection of revenue from the fishing industry.

The fisheries are exclusively industrial and annual catches are stable or steadily increasing following the overexploitation before independence. Trends for the three major species (hake, horse mackerel and pilchard) are showing the same broadly consistent pattern of increases in biomass up to 1992, a subsequent decline and, recently, a general recovery. The total landed catch in 1999 was approximately 600 000 t. The key fisheries are as follows (TAC for 2000 in brackets):

  • the Demersal Fisheries - hake (200 000 t), monk (16 000 t), kingklip and sole;

  • the Midwater Fishery - horse mackerel (410 000 t) pursued by both midwater trawlers and the purse seiners;

  • the Purse Seine Fishery - pilchard (15 000 t) and juvenile horse mackerel with purse seine nets;

  • the Deep-Water Fishery - orange roughy (2 400 t) and alfonsino;

  • the Large Pelagic Fishery - albacore, big-eye, yellow-fin, skipjack and swordfish;

  • the Rock Lobster Fishery (400 t) - small vessels using carrier vessels to bring the live lobster ashore daily;

  • the Crab Fishery (2 000 t) - a small fishery that uses traps to catch deep-sea crab during the whole year.

Namibia uses a three-part access system to turn its policies of Namibianisation of the fisheries into practise: (i) rights to exploit the fisheries are allocated; (ii) quotas are allocated to rights holders; and (iii) vessels are granted licences. This allows Namibia to maintain control over the fishing companies, the vessels and the crews in order to assure that policy aims are being met through a differentiated quota fees system that favours Namibian participation, Namibian flag vessels, Namibian employment, and an empowerment aspect in relation to the social inequalities.

Fisheries management controls fall into two categories;

  • input controls that relate to fishing effort and gear, seasons and areas, with the key ones being the limitation of total fishing effort and seasons; and

  • output controls that set quotas and regulations, size limits, and other characteristics of the fish that may be landed. The main output control is by the establishment of annual TAC and quota allocations set on the best scientific advice available, modified by socio-economic factors. TACs are today established for 7 species (hake, horse mackerel, pilchard, orange roughy, monk, red crab and rock lobster).

The MCS system is an integrated system that has stations in the two Inspectorates in Walvis Bay and Lüderitz with each station tasked as appropriate for deploying fishery officers to air, sea or land operations, deploying fisheries observers on board fishing vessels, analysing past operations and outputs or planning future operations. There is a cross-verification of data where observer and inspector information is checked through port inspections and landings control. MCS activities related to air and sea operations are co-ordinated from the Inspectorate at Walvis Bay through a maritime and fisheries Operations Centre and an air base at Arandis.

The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources operates two larger patrol vessels and one fixed wing aircraft in addition to maintaining 100% observer coverage of the fishing fleet (230 observers are employed in the largest observer programme south of equator). Observers and fisheries inspectors control gear and catches at sea. All catches are finally landed or transhipped in Namibia under the supervision and control of fisheries inspectors. VMS is still in a pilot stage and different systems are under evaluation.

1.4.2 Participatory management

Similarly, governments at all levels are giving private groups and individuals more opportunity to participate in the management of fisheries that affect them. This trend towards more transparency and openness is changing all aspects of MCS, including the development of fisheries laws and regulations, the collection of fisheries data, etc. As already indicated, enhanced public participation in the fisheries management process brings a number of advantages. Specifically, it fosters:

a) greater public understanding of the rationale behind MCS activities;

b) a greater sense of partnership between the government and fishers and others whose activities are being regulated;

c) a greater sense of ownership and acceptance by private groups and individuals in the decisions that are ultimately adopted;

d) voluntary compliance and the use of peer pressure to deter violations of fisheries rules;

e) greater availability of MCS funding and other assets for dealing with cases of non-compliance.

1.4.3 New technology

Advances in technology, along with reductions in the cost of technology, have revolutionised MCS. Examples include:

a) new vessel monitoring systems (VMS) in use in Argentina, Australia, Canada, Europe, Malaysia, New Zealand, United States, and member States of the South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency, with systems also being considered in Madagascar, Namibia, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka; and

b) inter-linked coastal radar systems in use in Senegal;[8]

c) a combined VMS and satellite imaging system in use in the Maldives.[9]

Cheap cellular telephone and computer technology has also brought MCS into the computer age and has greatly improved the capacity of States to respond rapidly to situations. Over-the-horizon radar technology is evolving as well, but its cost has not yet fallen to a level that is appropriate for general fisheries management.

Currently the most popular VMS systems use INMARSAT C (and more recently D) and ARGOS. Others such as POLESTAR and EULTRACS are also making an appearance. FAO has prepared detailed guidelines as part of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries series for Fisheries Administrators contemplating the introduction and use of such technology.[10]

The use of this new technology for coastal fisheries, particularly VMS, may not yet be cost-effective. However, many States can still monitor large numbers of coastal vessels effectively through other means, e.g. observers, dockside monitoring, monitoring of industry landings and production records, etc.

1.5 MCS Spatial Components

There are three main spatial dimensions or components to MCS: land, sea and air. The proper configuration of these spatial components for a given system will depend on such factors as cost, commitment, and organizational structure (national, subregional, or regional). All three components can now effectively use satellite technology (e.g. for vessel licensing, data collection and enforcement operations).

The land component of an MCS system serves as the base of operations, the co-ordinating centre for all MCS activities from which governments can regulate the deployment of resources to best address changing situations. The land component also entails port inspections, dockside monitoring, and the monitoring of transshipments and trade in fish products to ensure compliance with relevant rules. Governments must also undertake a variety of land-based activities in order to carry out their responsibilities as flag States of vessels that may be fishing in remote areas, including on the high seas and in waters under the jurisdiction of other States. New technology has allowed States to link the land components of their MCS system to those of other States on a regional or subregional basis, which can greatly foster co-ordinated and responsible management.

The sea component includes MCS activities undertaken in marine areas under the jurisdiction of a State and may also cover high seas areas. Technology that comes into play can include radar, sonar and vessel platforms. While physical presence through at-sea patrols remains a fundamental part of this component (necessary for arresting violators and securing evidence), the costs involved have prompted a growing number of States to employ "no force" surveillance techniques. Examples of such techniques include the placement of independent observers on board fishing vessels, national or regional vessel registers and VMS requirements. Developing coastal States are also requiring the flag States of vessels that wish to fish in their EEZs to ensure that those vessels do not violate the terms of the access granted. However, an at-sea presence remains necessary for the active enforcement of management measures to protect marine fisheries resources.

The air component covers the air and space equipment (aircraft, satellites, etc.) used in MCS activities. The flexibility, speed and deterrence of air and satellite based surveillance systems make these very popular tools for fisheries management. The air component provides for the rapid collection and dissemination of a wide range of information, including fishing vessel identification and reported fisheries data. Air, satellite or VMS surveillance can often provide initial information regarding fishing activity; they can also serve as first indicators of potential illegal activity and can thus trigger further MCS action. The cost of the air component is directly related to the sophistication of the technology used. Because governments can use air, satellite, video and advanced digital photographic technology, and VMS surveillance technology to address tasks beyond MCS (e.g. environmental and coastal zone monitoring, customs, immigration, and search and rescue), this equipment can improve the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of an integrated ocean management programme.

The United States of America has used all these tools in the past and currently has a multi-agency approach to MCS as noted in Profile 3.

Profile 3. Inter-agency involvement in MCS - the USA approach
CDR. Michael Cerne, LTJG Matthew Barker & LTJG Nathan Herman
United States Coast Guard

The United States EEZ is reputedly the largest in the world at 3.36 million square miles (8.684 million km?). It hosts some 100 000 commercial fishing vessels. The 1999 fisheries resulted in landings of 9 339 034 000 pounds (4.2451 million metric tonnes) valued at US$ $3.4671 billion. Pollock, menhaden and salmon in that order accounted for 40% of the landings of the top ten species; while shrimp, crab and salmon brought in the highest revenues.

The management of fisheries is shared with the federal government and the states with the latter having management authority to 3 nm. The 200 mile EEZ was declared in the late 1970s at which time the USA permitted foreign fishing vessels in their waters under very strict conditions of entry and exit reporting, licensing, observers, and access only to specified windows for fishing with further gear, catch and effort controls. Foreign fishing ceased in USA's waters in the early 1990s, as the United States fishing fleet increasingly encountered pressures of over capitalization similar to other States. MCS control mechanisms for the domestic fisheries include the use of: licenses, quota, season, gear and area controls with appropriate reports and landing verifications, and observers for specific fisheries.

Vessel monitoring system technology is in use in the USA for fisheries vessel tracking on approximately 500 vessels in Hawaii, New England and Alaska, with plans for expansion for another possible 3 330 vessels in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.

MCS Agency Responsibilities:

Each individual State is responsible for its 3 nm zone. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) conducts shore monitoring and at times places personnel aboard multi-agency assets for MCS, e.g. air patrols and sea patrols. The United States Coast Guard (USCG) is the key agency responsible for enforcement within the EEZ and their air and sea assets are multi-tasked with fisheries being one of the secondary tasks. Coast Guard vessels spent 92 864 hours in fisheries related operations in 1999. USCG air hours for fisheries for 1999 were 10 527 hours. (This does not include the individual State efforts and dedicated efforts for MCS in their coastal waters.) The NOAA Office for Law Enforcement has five divisions based out of Silver Springs, Maryland and supports 50 field offices throughout the United States and Territories. It is the acknowledged leader and expert in the field of marine resource enforcement in the United States.

The United States is developing an integrated national system so all fisheries that may be subjected to VMS requirements will be centralized for analysis, planning, and operations.

[1] See Flewwelling (1994).
[2] Derham, Peter (1987). The implementation and enforcement of fisheries legislation. The regulation of fisheries: legal, economic and social aspects. Proceedings of a European workshop, University of Tromsø, Norway, 2-4 June 1985, Ulfstein, Anderson and Churchill (ed.) 1987. pp. 71-81. Norway, University of Tromsø.
[3] Unenforceable legislation, or that which is either not understood or is not acceptable to the fishers, rapidly destroys the credibility and support for a government in its efforts to conserve its fisheries resources. Such legislation usually results in active subversion by the fishers and the fishing industry.
[4] FAO (1981).
[5] There is reference in this paper to oceans policy, integrated oceans planning and management, and fisheries management. This is to emphasize the fact that any management policy or plan which applies to oceans will impact on several sectors involved in ocean management. Fisheries departments, as a central component in ocean resource management, have an obligation to assume a key role in conservation and protection of ocean resources for their clients. MCS then becomes multi-sectoral, being essential for implementation of fisheries management strategies, as well as being necessary for the successful implementation of wider oceans policies, plans and strategies.
[6] Doulman (1993).
[7] There is still the mistaken perception that MCS is "unproductive" if it does not result in arrests. This does not follow the emerging idea of MCS as a key tool for the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, nor the concept of preventive MCS (voluntary compliance) and deterrent MCS activities operating in parallel for successful and cost-effective fisheries and coastal resource management.
[8] The Senegal linked coastal radar system monitors the inshore coastal zone out to six nautical miles and permits early warning and "no force" action in the case of intrusions into this zone.
[9] The combined VMS and Satellite Imagery System in the Maldives is one of the most sophisticated of MCS tracking systems in that it permits rapid identification of all licensed vessels and also presents a picture of other vessels. This facilitates a focused investigation and cost-effective deployment of expensive patrol resources. Unfortunately, at the time of writing the full system was not yet operational due to technical reasons, but as a concept it is excellent for nearshore and offshore surveillance.
[10] FAO (1998).

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