Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page


4.1 National, Subregional and Regional Structures

FAO is currently supporting initiatives to strengthen fisheries management and MCS in several East Asian States. In some of those States (including Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia), MCS operational manuals have already been developed.

Regional and subregional cooperation is also increasing. UNCLOS requires States to cooperate with one another in:

a) the conservation and management of the living resources of the high seas;[58]

b) the establishment of subregional or regional fisheries organizations where the nationals of more than one State are engaged in exploiting the same living resources or different living resources in the same area;[59] and

c) the management of straddling and highly migratory fish stocks.[60]

The UN Fish Stocks Agreement, the 1995 FAO Compliance Agreement and the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, discussed in Chapter 2, all reinforce these calls for cooperation.

The IPOA on IUU Fishing also suggests a number of ways in which States, acting through regional fishery management organizations (RFMOs), can do more to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing. Among other things, RFMOs can:

a) collect and disseminate information relating to IUU fishing;

b) identify vessels that are engaging in IUU fishing and co-ordinate measures against them;

c) identify States whose vessels are engaging in IUU fishing and urge identified States to rectify such behaviour;

d) call on their members to take action against vessels without nationality that are fishing in the relevant region;

e) adopt rules to ensure that vessel chartering arrangements do not lead to IUU fishing;

f) adopt port inspection schemes, restrictions on transshipment at sea and schemes creating a presumption that fish harvested by non-member vessels in the relevant region should not be permitted to be landed in ports of members;

g) adopt catch documentation and/or trade documentation schemes; and

h) adopt other market-related measures to combat IUU fishing.

There are many reasons for coastal States to cooperate with other coastal States in their region to establish a regional MCS system, particularly where the States have a rich marine resource base that is vulnerable to IUU fishing. Regional cooperation among developing States can yield the exchange of fisheries data for MCS and fisheries management purposes, harmonised legislation, extradition agreements, cost savings and increased negotiating power, implementation of flag and port State control agreements, and combined measures to address IUU fishing activities. In practice, the cost of implementing MCS measures is often a decisive factor in encouraging States to join subregional and regional MCS initiatives.

Regional or subregional cooperation will often be more successful when:

a) there is an existing organization that will serve the purpose;

b) the States in the area have a common interest in fisheries;

c) there is a common language and/or cultural ties;

d) fish stocks are shared;

e) maritime boundary delimitation issues between the States in question have been resolved; and

f) the political ideologies and policies of the governments are compatible.

However, regional and subregional cooperation can be problematic, particularly where these circumstances are not present. Regional cooperation will also create additional responsibilities. These include: the security of sensitive data; how differences between the participating States will be resolved in order to present a unified regional position; and how to take into account the difference in the economic situations of potential member States when devising cost-sharing arrangements to support an international organization. Each State must balance the advantages and disadvantages before deciding whether to make a commitment to regional, subregional, or bilateral cooperation regarding international fisheries and MCS activities.

Despite difficulties, there are many examples of fisheries organizations that have successfully dealt with these issues and have gone on to deliver benefits to their members. These include:

a) the South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA);[61]

b) the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Fisheries Unit;

c) the Caribbean International Community (CARICOM) Fisheries Resource Assessment and Management Programme (CFRAMP);

d) the Northwest Africa Subregional Fisheries Commission (SRFC); and

e) the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC).

The experiences of long-established regional fisheries organizations can provide valuable guidance in relation to issues such as: regional information sharing; joint control and management of common areas of interest; achieving cost savings from the shared use of assets; harmonisation of laws and common goals in fisheries agreements with distant water fishing States; and regional training. In addition to the fisheries organizations referred to above, a number of other regional fisheries organizations are available to provide useful advice. Contact information for these organizations can be found on the Fisheries Department homepage of the FAO website,

4.2 Roles and Responsibilities

A decision on international cooperation will not absolve the State from its responsibility to establish appropriate internal structures to address fisheries MCS issues.

As an MCS system is developed, various government agencies not directly concerned with fisheries (e.g. environment authorities, national defence, coast guard, customs and immigration) are likely to seek input into matters such as determining priorities, allocating resources and the sharing of information. Experience has shown that establishing an effective inter-agency co-ordinating mechanism for all national maritime agencies can increase efficiency by reducing duplication of effort and jurisdictional conflicts and by facilitating exchange of information required for operations.

MCS surveillance resources can be expensive. In the past, split operational "command and control" has been unsuccessful in both military and civilian operations due to differing mandates and priorities (e.g. fisheries patrols turn into drug enforcement or customs patrols). The need for one lead agency or a recognized and formal inter-agency mechanism has been suggested. An alternative approach could be an alternating chair for the co-ordinating committee or the inter-agency mechanism adopted to maximise efficiency in operational MCS activities. Whatever strategy is selected, the lead role and authority for coastal and oceans fisheries and environment management, whichever strategy is selected, should be formalised in legislation.

4.3 Core Infrastructure Requirements

It is impossible to make concrete suggestions that would quantify the MCS requirements for each situation, as they will be different for each system. It is possible, however, to make suggestions on core requirements and to leave the quantification to each fisheries administration.

4.3.1 Monitoring

The monitoring component of MCS should receive, integrate and verify information from the licensing unit, sea-going units (sightings and inspections), observers, VMS and satellite imagery, radar, port inspection, regular dockside monitoring of landings, logbooks, production logbooks, and air sightings for vessel identification, activity and location. The system can also include data on fishing patterns, fishers and community profiles with respect to socio-economic factors, dependency and earnings from fishing and any other fisheries information. These data can be used to verify licensing conditions and to assess catch and effort for resource assessment and fisheries management planning.

The accumulation of data will require a significant storage and analysis capability. Although this can be done manually, the system will be more responsive and effective if it is computerised. When planning the data management system, it is important to consider that the system must be capable of allowing immediate access to information required for operational purposes and MCS planning. On the other hand, it must be capable of storing certain data for long periods of time, particularly data to be used for long-term stock assessment and monitoring, and management planning. These two aspects of data management must be considered during the data system development exercise.

It will be necessary to determine the number of entry points for data and to establish a network capability so that the resulting analyses can be redistributed to all fisheries offices. This means offices in major fisheries landing points, collection schemes for sea, land and air data, and a central office for analysis, distribution and operational decision-making. Furthermore, consideration might be given to providing links on a "read-only" basis to other maritime agencies to promote information sharing and cooperative MCS activities, e.g. Environment, National Defence, Customs, Immigration, and even an edited version (to protect business security information) to the fishing industry.[62] In view of the growing trend for transparency, each fisheries company should be able to retrieve data on its own fisheries.

4.3.2 Control

The control component of MCS will require appropriate and enforceable legislation to implement the approved, participatory fisheries management plans.[63] In essence and to be effective, these controls must address five key areas:

a) the powers and responsibilities of all fisheries personnel from the Minister to the lowest level, including any contract personnel that are part of the MCS scheme;[64]

b) international conservation agreements such as UNCLOS, UN Fish Stocks Agreement, FAO Compliance Agreement, the CCRF and the IPOA on IUU Fishing;

c) national fishing activities;

d) minimum terms and conditions for fishing;[65] and

e) penalties for non-compliance.

Legislation can also provide for the devolution of authority, establish mechanisms to involve stakeholders in decision-making and increase the transparency of the management system.[66] In order for the control component of the MCS system to function effectively, the fisheries administration should have access to a team of suitably qualified and experienced lawyers to draft appropriate legislation in support of management plans, to provide ongoing advice on legal issues that may arise with regard to the implementation of management measures, and to prosecute offences under fisheries legislation. The expertise of the team of lawyers should cover both relevant international law (in particular the treaties discussed in Section 2.2) as well as national laws related to fisheries management.

The effectiveness of the control system will be substantially increased if all personnel involved in enforcing the legislation are appropriately trained. This training should include advice from members of the judiciary or lawyers with extensive court experience regarding the presentation of evidence.

4.3.3 Surveillance

The surveillance component of MCS will require fisheries personnel who not only collect data for the monitoring aspect of MCS during their surveillance duties, but can also communicate with and educate stakeholders involved in participatory conservation activities. These personnel must have the appropriate equipment and facilities, operating funds and training both to encourage voluntary compliance and to enforce laws where necessary. Surveillance is usually the largest and most expensive component to fund. For international MCS activities, UNCLOS requires that all surveillance ships or aircraft must be "clearly marked and identifiable as being on government service" and authorized to that effect.[67] This requirement is often addressed through large, highly visible, government markings on all surveillance vessels and aircraft. This is supplemented on sea-going vessels by a fisheries flag that also denotes that the vessel or aircraft is on fisheries duties. The design and use of the flag is usually clearly stated in fisheries legislation. All fisheries vessels, regardless of size, should fly this flag while on fisheries duties to facilitate identification of assets, especially when the Government charters vessels for surveillance activities.

A State may find it more cost-effective to share the equipment for fisheries surveillance with other enforcement agencies involved in other oceans-related MCS operations.[68]

The basic infrastructure required should consist of at least the following:

a) A national headquarters for the coordination of fisheries operations with a network of linked field offices.

b) A central operations room where current status of fishing operations can be shown.

c) A communications system to all fisheries centres and mobile platforms in the field for both safety and control of operations.

d) A computer data system for licensing and vessel registration, data collection and analysis.

e) Surveillance equipment. Depending on local conditions and local government budgetary constraints, this equipment might include aircraft, vessels, air surveillance, sea surveillance (coastal, offshore and boarding equipment), VMS[69] and satellite imaging technology, radar, GIS equipment and land transportation.

A State should consider the equipment necessary to implement the MCS operational plan at an early stage. A central policy on equipment standards, training and overall coordination capability should be adopted. There is clearly a need for a computerised data system, networked with the coastal and inland area field offices for data collection and surveillance. Communication systems and transport in the form of land, sea, and possibly, air patrol platforms are an integral part of most MCS programs. In addition, where appropriate, provision should be made for the use of satellite technology and other safety equipment for surveillance operations. Appropriately trained directors, supervisors, and field personnel are an absolutely essential requirement for an effective MCS system. The central headquarters then works with the "devolved" fisheries authorities and field offices to train staff, assist in overall coordination, and support of monitoring operations.

4.4 Staffing

The requirements for MCS include personnel to address each of the components of monitoring, control and surveillance. The numbers of these personnel will vary with the MCS scheme in place, but the basic requirements would remain fairly constant. These personnel need varied levels of expertise. For example, the data collectors need literacy and good interpersonal skills with knowledge of the fishery and its policies and procedures. These individuals are often at the technician level. Observers for offshore vessels also fall into this category. An observer scheme is only appropriate if capable, honest and dedicated personnel are available, preferably with offshore sea experience. In many States, close supervision of the Observer program is necessary to ensure safe working conditions and a minimum of interference with the observer's duties.

The ability to analyse the data collected for fisheries management decisions and operational deployment requires a higher level of knowledge and competence, both academic and practical. Computer skills are a requirement for these individuals.

The control component requires individuals with a comprehensive working knowledge of fisheries and the law. This will include fisheries managers responsible for drafting fishery management plans, as well as the licensing staff and assigned technicians. These individuals should be capable of working with lawyers assigned from the Ministry of Justice or equivalent, in order to design enforceable laws and also to advise on internal decisions regarding MCS operations.

Finally, there is the need for surveillance personnel, including those qualified to operate small and large patrol vessels. Fisheries Officers will be needed for offshore, coastal, river and lake patrols, as well as management of the offices and liaison with the fishers. A recruitment process should be initiated that surveys all sectors of the population for qualified candidates. The personnel needed for air surveillance are usually seconded from the military to minimize training requirements and the purchase of aircraft. Support personnel will also be required from local administrative staffing pools. Maintenance personnel for specialised equipment must be appropriately qualified.

Proper training for all these personnel is vital. For example, observers require very focused and specialized training to ensure that they understand their role and can complete accurate reports. In selecting fisheries officers, a State must keep in mind that these people are no longer involved in just enforcement operations. The officer must be able to handle multiple tasks as a development officer, a communicator and educator for voluntary compliance and transparency in MCS, and as an enforcement officer. Further reference to training needs of enforcement officers and observers appear in subsequent chapters and also in Annex E (for enforcement officers) and Annex F (for observers).[70]

4.5 Financial Aspects

In considering the development of new MCS systems, States tend to look for the most advanced technology that can meet their work requirements. This is usually also the most expensive equipment on the market. It is more prudent to look for the appropriate and cost effective technology for each fishery situation.

4.5.1 Resource rent

There are two schools of thought on the subject of resource rents. One is that fishers should not have to pay for fishing, as fish are a common property resource and fishing is often seen as the employment of last resort. This school holds to the "open access" management approach, even when the resources are at a critical, and possibly non-recoverable state. This approach has now been discredited in most States. Today there is general recognition that fishing must be a sustainable activity, and that rights of access should not include the right to deprive future generations of protein and enjoyment of marine resources and their habitat.

The second school of thought seeks contributions from fishers, boat owners, port owners and fish processors in exchange for the privilege of access to these resources to help offset government and taxpayers costs for sustainable management and MCS.[71] Under this view, fishers must receive and pay for a license from the State in the same way that others who extract raw materials must have licenses. Today, decreasing stocks and increasing costs of effective management have meant that many States are charging fishers more significant license fees.

An appropriate resource rent system should have license fees that:

a) are reasonable and relatively stable (not fluctuate dramatically from year to year);

b) result in a reasonable return to the resource owner (usually the State);

c) are fair to both fishers and public taxpayer (if it is too high then fishers will exit the industry; and if it is too low, there is a loss to the resource owner that taxpayers must make up); and

d) are simple for fishers to calculate in advance, so that they can include such fees in their financial planning.

In the past, States have based fees for fishing on a percentage of a vessel's total catch. This practice creates an unfortunate incentive for fishers to underreport catches. A more successful fee strategy is based on a fee per vessel or allocated quotas, and not on catches.

Moreover, a State should not set its fees strictly in accordance with costs and profits, as these are very difficult to determine on an enterprise basis and fluctuate considerably from year to year. This strategy would also encourage misrepresentation of the costs of operations. Some States base license fees on a percentage of the vessels reported catch.

In determining the fees for fishing licenses, governments must also consider other fees levied for use of port facilities, transshipment fees, import and export fees, etc. Licence fees could therefore be based on:[72]

a) the cost of administering the licensing system;

b) the cost of fishery management, including resource assessment;

c) a proportion of the value of the catch allocated in the EEZ, or coastal area;

d) the economic benefits of fishing inside the EEZ or coastal area as opposed to being restricted to other areas;

e) the period of time for which access is granted; and

f) the gross tonnage of the vessel licensed.

Resource rents can therefore address the size and harvesting capacity of the vessels, the time approved for the fishing privilege, the value of the fish approved for catching and an additional amount to reduce the cost to the public of managing the marine resources.

4.5.2 Cost-effective data collection and verification

The requirements for data collection and verification usually include information on the fishers, their socio-economic status, their fishing vessels and gear, individual and community dependence and returns from the fishery including the period, quantity, and value of landings. Further information on the area of capture and the size, weight and age of the fish are also beneficial for fish stock assessment modelling and stock predictions. The most cost-effective strategy is to have data collectors in each or many of the large fishing communities.

The initial data collection task is to compile an accurate record of fishers. One cost-effective strategy in some States is to do this in connection with a regular census of the population. The key role of the data collector, following the establishment of the data base, is the verification and ongoing monitoring of the fish caught, including capturing additional information on the area of capture, size, age and sex of the catch.

Fishers may believe that officials are collecting data solely to document a fisheries violation, particularly where States use personnel for both data collection and enforcement purposes. In such cases respondents may sometimes provide misleading information. Data collection reliability is often enhanced when the individual collecting the data is known and respected in the community. Extension officers from other field ministries can also provide a wealth of basic social information about the local communities within which they work.

Since the information being sought is often of a sensitive nature, confidentiality of individual and company sources must be assured throughout the data collection and analysis process.

Coastal fisheries data

The key to ensuring quality data from the domestic fishers is to maintain credibility and close contact with them in their communities and to seek their ideas and support for new management and regulatory measures. One example of a low-cost method to gain information on fisheries close to the coast has been used successfully in New Zealand and some South Pacific Island States, and is now being tested in Indonesia. This involves the deployment of part-time coast/reef watchers, usually from the coastal communities, at a minimal cost to the State of the price of binoculars and a radio. Information on fishing activities, especially incursions from outside the area, is easily determined and the fishers and community are thus encouraged and educated through participation in the conservation, protection and management of their coastal marine resources.

Offshore fisheries data

There are several options for the offshore portion of fisheries MCS, depending on the value of the fisheries to both domestic and foreign fishers. In a limited entry system, participants in these fisheries pay a fee for the privilege of conducting fisheries, which can offset the costs of management, including MCS.

Under UNCLOS, a coastal State should grant foreign fishing vessels access to its EEZ if it cannot harvest all the total allowable catch. However, as discussed in Section 2.3, the coastal State may establish the terms on which such access is granted. This could include setting a potential "resource rent" for the privilege and opportunity of fishing in a particular zone. In many developing States, the resource rent imposed on foreign fishing vessels is too low, often less than 1 percent of the landed value of catches. Setting of an appropriate fee level can offset a significant portion of the costs of MCS.[73]

Port inspections

It is safer and more cost-effective to conduct inspections and require trans-shipment of fish in port rather than at sea. The fishing industry generally resists these options, due to the additional costs involved and the loss of opportunity to circumvent regulations at sea (where monitoring is usually lacking). Where possible, maximum use of port surveillance and inspection are recommended; these can be very cost-effective and more thorough and safer than at-sea inspections. These port inspections also permit an opportunity for port States to implement international port State control mechanisms. However, at-sea surveillance is still a necessary component of most fisheries regimes to monitor against closed area violations, prohibited species retention, gear infractions, as well as dumping, discarding and culling for high value species.

4.5.3 Fisheries management strategy

The choice of management measures, as reviewed further in the following chapter, will greatly affect the cost of the MCS system. Effort controls are much easier and cost-efficient to implement than multi-species or multi-area quota and species controls. The effort limitations by area would be established from catch rates in the past applied to each fishery. Fishing in an area after closure is thus an offence. Effort could be verified through information provided on sightings from the sea, land or air, and also from VMS. Although this approach is ideal for surveillance, it may be a bit impractical in terms of optimum utilisation of the resources, e.g. combined fisheries in one area where the total for one species has been taken, but not that for the second fishery. It could be an option, however, for a single species fishery.

Quota controls are effective only if there is very timely acquisition and processing of accurate catch data, including discarded fish that have been removed from the resource base. The acquisition of these data, which is also helpful for stock assessment, requires at-sea observations and inspections for quality control and verification of the data being collected. This latter requirement is an expensive undertaking. A State might consider increases in resource rents to offset the costs of observer coverage, VMS, and dockside monitoring, if quota control is the strategy the fishers support for fisheries management.

4.5.4 Legislation

Fisheries legislation forms a major part of the control component of fisheries MCS. The fisheries management plan is transferred from theoretical ideas to legal requirements that form the basis for the MCS operations. It is at this juncture that fisheries managers, MCS officials and lawyers can assess the enforceability and cost of their management schemes. Common concerns expressed by MCS personnel all over the world include:

a) the time to enact the law;

b) the appropriateness of the law when finally enacted (e.g. the original draft may be changed as a result of political compromises made during the parliamentary or other process required to pass the law);

c) legal complexities;

d) enforceability and costs; and

e) credibility loss due to laws that cannot be enforced.

Cost-effectiveness can be increased if there is coordination and cooperation between the fisheries managers, MCS component and legal drafters.

4.5.5 Licences

Licences are a key tool in most management regimes, particularly where it is necessary to limit access to a fishery. Licences are also an important mechanism for imposing conditions on access. For example, coastal States can use licences to impose conditions on foreign fishing vessels to place stricter obligations on them (e.g. to install ALCs) and to facilitate enforcement in national courts. The licence holder obtains a conditional right to fish (i.e. the right depends on compliance with the conditions of the licence) and non-licence holders are excluded. As noted, the government should consider imposing an appropriate fee for granting this right to some while excluding others from the resource.

4.5.6 "No force" strategies

The use of cost-effective "no force" tools is becoming popular. These include:

a) granting fishing authorization only to vessels that are in "good standing" on a national or regional register;

b) observer programmes;

c) VMS, satellite imagery, remote video and digital photography and infrared tracking; and

d) port State controls for safety at sea and compliance monitoring.

These strategies can all be cost-effective and, if applied on a cost-recovery basis, can be of minimal cost to the State after the initial investments in the procurement of base equipment and in training staff for inspections and observer duties.

4.5.7 Private sector MCS

Some States are shifting MCS responsibilities (and costs) to the private sector. Although the unit operating costs of MCS activities may increase initially above those for the government, it has been found that the private sector, with a clear mandate, can sometimes run MCS operations in a business-like, cost-effective manner. Experience has shown this to be the case for air surveillance in some States (e.g. Canada and Malaysia).

The concept of community-based fisheries management and the deputising of private sector personnel to work with local authorities can also be a cost-effective option worth considering for monitoring purposes (e.g. observers, dockside monitoring, reef/coast watch programmes). This permits Government to look at operating standards, outputs and cost-effectiveness while the private sector addresses the competency of employees, operations and all personnel related issues. Privatisation of many non-enforcement aspects of MCS can be carried out successfully, but a very good liaison between all involved parties must exist, perhaps more than can be expected in some States.

[58] UNCLOS Article 117.
[59] UNCLOS Article 118.
[60] UNCLOS Articles 63 and 64.
[61] The evolution of the FFAs regional MCS system is described in Annex D.
[62] VMS information sharing in Argentina resulted in the Navy and Coast Guard placing a permanent representative at the Fisheries Headquarters to enhance liaison for operations.
[63] Key issues to be considered in reviewing and strengthening national legislation for MCS purposes are reviewed further in Annex C.
[64] Some countries are utilizing contract personnel and the private sector for observer programs, dockside monitoring, and air surveillance.
[65] Minimum conditions which a State may wish to implement could include vessel identification; catch and reporting requirements; conditions for transhipment; standard catch and effort log sheets; terms for assistance to and living conditions for observers and authorized fisheries personnel on the vessel; local agents for international fishing partners; authorized and mandatory fisheries and safety or MCS equipment; and flag state responsibility for their vessels.
[66] The Philippines has placed the formation, roles and responsibilities of the Fisheries And Aquatic Resources Management Committees (FARMCs) in their new Fisheries Law of 1998 that formalises the input of stakeholders at all levels of government from the national level to the barangays (villages).
[67] UNCLOS Art 111(5) dealing with hot pursuit and Art 224 dealing with the exercise of powers of enforcement in relation to the protection and preservation of the marine environment.
[68] It is not appropriate for fisheries administrations to pay the additional costs involved in using large and costly military equipment for fisheries patrols.
[69] See the FAO Technical Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries supplement on VMS (FAO, 1998).
[70] Also refer to Davies and Reynolds (2002) for a review of at-sea fishery observer training procedures.
[71] Paraphrase from Bergh (2000).
[72] Mees and Parkes (1999).
[73] A study of the fisheries in the Philippines in 1994 as a preparatory document to the ADB Project Development Mission for the Fisheries Resources Management Project, indicated revenues from licensing at 0.03 of 1% of landed values of fish caught. An increase to 1% of landed value would have recovered the entire cost of the newly proposed MCS system for the entire country.

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page