Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page


1. Introduction

The purpose of this Part is to evaluate the effect of fishing vessels from open registry States on fisheries management when effective flag State control is and is not applied.

To assist in this evaluation, questionnaires were distributed to open registry States and RFMOs. The extent of implementation of flag State responsibilities as agreed in international instruments and the effectiveness of existing flag State control measures were assessed through responses to these questionnaires. The objectives of the questionnaires were to describe the:

i. activities that result from States not exercising effective flag state control over fishing fleets; and

ii. extent and effectiveness of implementation of flag State control measures prescribed under international instruments.

Responses to the questionnaire provide an idea of the scope for strengthened flag State control and a realistic basis for future action to achieve the objective of long-term sustainable use of the fisheries resource.

Copies of the questionnaires appear in Appendixes 2 and 3.

For information, a table of fishing vessel registration by national register is in Appendix 4. Approximately 8 per cent by number, or 11% of registered fishing vessels over 100 GRT operate under open registers.[213] Of the 11 largest fishing registers in the world, 3 are operated by open registry states.

2. Open Registry States

The extent of flag State control by open registry States is influenced by a number of factors including the type of fishery, presence of international pressure exerted through other States[214] or RFMOs, and whether the State is a member of an RFMO. It is difficult to draw any conclusions linking the shipowner’s selection of an open register State with that State’s ratification, or not, of international instruments. However, the implementation and enforcement of international conservation and management provisions by States directly or through RFMOs may influence the register a vessel owner chooses.

Input on effective flag State control was sought from 25 open registry States in the form of a questionnaire. A summary of the States polled appears in Appendix 5. Contact information for the open registry States that register fishing vessels is provided in Appendix 6.

States identified as operating an open register[215] were asked to comment or provide information on the following:

Responses were received from 12 States, eight of which indicated that they do not register fishing vessels.[216] Belize, Cook Islands, Malta and Vanuatu provided substantive information in response to the questionnaire. Limited information on other open registry States[217] was obtained from public sources and is included where available.

2.1 General Information on Registration Procedures

The States were asked to provide information on the following subjects respecting the requirements for vessel registration:

a) What are the requirements for vessel registration?

b) Are there any restrictions on registration?

c) Can a vessel be de-registered for violating the law?

d) What information is required for an application?

e) How are applications received and processed?

f) What is the timing and how is a decision made to approve an application?

A summary of their responses is provided in Appendix 9, Table 8.

Currently, there are 6 fishing vessels registered and 10 under review for registration on Cook Island’s register, 88 on Malta’s register, 122 on Vanuatu’s register and 402 on Belize’s register, making Belize among the ten largest fishing vessel registries worldwide (Appendix 4).

All four States have administrative arrangements and legislation in place to manage the registration process for fishing vessels. The Cook Islands Registry has undergone some recent changes and in May 2001 was taken over by the Cook Islands Maritime & Shipping Registry (CIMSRL). If the application and accompanying documents are in order, registration can be accomplished in less than a day[218] but may take up to three weeks.[219]

Prior to awarding permanent registration, some open registry States require an applicant to provide a certificate or other evidence that the vessel has been deleted from its previous register.[220] A certificate of deletion is an important means of ensuring vessels are not registered on more than one registry.

However, to be effective, all States should require them. If a State does not require a deletion certificate, then it becomes much easier for vessels to flag-hop - i.e. be flagged in more than one State and avoid a State’s enforcement measures. For example, Belize has found that vessel owners are not obtaining deletion certificates from Belize, implying the vessel is flag-hopping. This imposes constraints on Belize’s enforcement activities.

All four registers have restrictions as to the age of the vessel which may be registered. Some registers refuse to accept vessels over a certain age (e.g. Belize)[221] while others may subject the older vessels to conditions prior to registration (e.g. Cook Islands).[222]

Two of the registers also have nationality requirements respecting ownership of the vessels.[223]

Two of the registers have special requirements for fishing vessels. Belize requires a Fishing Vessel Data Form to be completed as part of application process and Malta requires that a fishing vessel be licensed to fish prior to registration.[224] Prior to registering an international fishing vessel, the Honduras registry requires that the vessel submit an affidavit not to fish tuna.[225] This requirement is in accordance with a resolution adopted by ICCAT. If the affidavit is not presented, a clause prohibiting fishing for tuna will be included at the back of the certificate for registry.

Belize, Malta and Vanuatu have legislative provisions regarding the deregistration of vessels for non-compliance.

In Belize, registration may be cancelled if a vessel is:

In response to international pressure, mostly exerted through ICCAT, Belize has de-registered vessels for illegal fishing in conservation areas. Belize has also deregistered vessels for non-compliance with safety regulations, not responding to requests for inspections, and drug trafficking. The deregistration process is part of Belize’s quality initiatives.[227]

Malta’s “Closure of Registry” provisions allow the deregistration of vessels where “it is in the national interest or in the interest of Maltese shipping”.[228] No specific language requires deregistration in the event of failure to comply with fisheries conservation and management measures or relevant international agreements. In practice, however, in the past two years, three fishing vessels have been de-registered due to administrative reasons.

In Vanuatu, vessels can be deregistered for violations of the Maritime Act[229] or other international agreements relating to fishing. Deregistration may be based on requests by owners, but also may be implemented for violations of fishing agreements or failure to respond to inquiries from the registry.

Although no vessels have been de-registered since May 2001 when CIMSRL took over the Cook Islands registry, CIMSRL recognizes there is a gap in the legislation in this respect and reports it is attending to the matter.

In response to a letter of complaint by ICCAT that Honduran flagged vessels were fishing for tuna in contravention of the ICCAT Convention and from pressure due to import restrictions imposed on Honduras by ICCAT, the Merchant Marine of Honduras took immediate steps to cancel the registration of all international fishing vessels denounced by ICCAT. [230] Further, the General Directorate of Honduras took the irrevocable decision of canceling or suspending all the international fishing vessels included in its registry. Up to October 2000, of a total of 269 vessels included in the Honduran fleet, 228 vessels have been cancelled and 41 have been suspended.[231]

The Merchant Marine of Honduras will maintain a registry closed to international fishing vessels while the pertinent authorities of Honduras takes measures towards compliance with the ICCAT Convention. The Merchant Marine also made a formal commitment not to proceed to the registration of any international fishing vessels without first informing the competent body of ICCAT and assuring that those vessels that are registered comply with ICCAT Convention.[232]

2.2 National Policy, Legislation and Administrative Arrangements

The States were asked several questions respecting the existence of national policies, legislation and administrative arrangements that implement international requirements, and enable flag State control to be exercised over vessels listed on the registry. States were also asked to provide information on their involvement, if any, in RFMOs.

2.2.1 Policy

All four responding open registry States have some form of policy, official or otherwise, and legislation respecting flag State control. Malta did not provide any details on its policy.

Belize derives its policy respecting flag State control from the 1982 Convention[233] and other international agreements. The policy statement is contained in the Registry’s ISO 9002 approved Quality Manual. In addition, on November 1, 2001, Belize introduced a multi-phase Action Plan[234] in an attempt to “clean up its ship register’s tarnished image.”[235] As a result of this initiative, 668 ships were deregistered from Belize’s books in 2001.

The Cook Islands does not have official government policy respecting flag State control, however, CIMSRL intends to become a desirable flag for the registration of high quality fishing vessels. To this end, CIMSRL is currently undergoing a legislative review with the intention of introducing legislation to enable the Cook Islands to seek accreditation for EUR1 certificates of origin. CIMSRL has also an internal policy to exert maximum control over its fleet. CIMSRL intends to achieve this by dealing with vessels only through its own staff for purposes of registration and appointing its own independent inspectors to act for it.

Vanuatu does not have a policy in place, but does have new draft fisheries legislation which covers flag State responsibilities, including the monitoring of vessels by use of transponders.

2.2.2 Legislation

The legislation for all four States provides for offences and enforcement action for non-compliance. In Belize, enforcement includes prohibition from sailing, fines up to US$ 50 000, deregistration, and notification to IMO.[236]

Cook Islands legislation[237] provides for various offences, including failure to meet safety standards, which are punishable, if convicted, by fines.[238] Compliance is enforced through inspectors who are located in ports where Cook Island vessels operate. No enforcement actions have been taken since CIMSRL took over the registry. No information was available on Cook Island’s sanctions to secure compliance with international conservation and management measures as this matter is not within CIMSRL’s jurisdiction.[239]

Enforcement action by Malta includes deregistration and fines. [240]

In Vanuatu, enforcement is provided in draft legislation and action will be carried out by the Ship Registry and Vanuatu Maritime Authority.

All States identified constraints to taking enforcement action. For Belize, the problem is vessels re-flagging to another registry without seeking a deletion certificate from Belize’s registry and thereby avoiding Belize’s penalties and enforcement measures. Malta identified the need to improve the monitoring of fishing vessels’ operators.[241]

In its attempts to introduce higher standards to the small fishing register, CIMSRL is experiencing resistance mostly in the form of objections associated with the cost of meeting the standards. Since CIMSRL’s involvement in the registry, more vessels have been refused registration than accepted.

Vanuatu indicated that enforcement may be hampered by geographic isolation of the fishing vessels from Vanuatu and/or the Registry. Accurate reporting and positive identification are critical and in some cases have not been provided to the Registry in the past from enforcement agencies.

Sanctions are imposed according to legislation, which may include fines and deregistration. In Belize fines range up to $50 000 USD and in Malta they range from 200 to 25 000 liri.[242] All States indicated that deregistration is a potential measure to address non-compliances.

2.2.3 Administrative Arrangements

All responding States have administrative arrangements in place that implement flag State responsibilities. In the Cook Islands, the new CIMSRL administers registration and safety standards and the Ministry of Marine Resources administers fisheries matters. Belize has several administrative arrangements including: General Safety Inspectors, Deputy Registrars, Recognized Organizations, Director-General, Solicitor General/Attorney General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Merchant Shipping Directorate of Malta Maritime Authority (a Government agency) performs the duties of a Maritime Administration in Malta. New legislation in Vanuatu, aimed at implementing flag State responsibilities, will include inspections and important electronic monitoring of fishing fleets using transponders. A new tuna management plan has been drafted and implemented for Vanuatu as a first start on a local basis. It provides that Vanuatu flag vessels will not be considered local for the purposes of fishing licence issuance unless they fulfil ownership criteria.[243]

All responding States are involved in RFMOs: the Cook Islands is a member of the FFA, Belize is currently an observer in ICCAT, but intends to join as a cooperating member in the near future,[244] Malta is a member of two RFMOs and Vanuatu is a member of a number of RFMOs and regional arrangements.[245]

2.2.4 International Instruments and Agreements

The States were asked whether they had ratified, accepted or acceded to and implemented the 1982 Convention, the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement, the FAO Code of Conduct, the FAO Compliance Agreement and the FAO IPOA-IUU. The States were asked to identify any other arrangements or agreements they were party to.

All 4 responding States have accepted and implemented the 1982 Convention. The Cook Islands, Malta and Vanuatu have accepted and implemented the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement. Belize is in the process of introducing new legislation and ratifying the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement. [246] Belize’s new legislation will also implement the FAO Compliance Agreement and the FAO IPOA-IUU. Malta recently passed legislation implementing the 1982 Convention, the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement and the FAO Code of Conduct.[247] Malta has ratified the FAO IPOA-IUU and is in the final stages of ratifying the FAO Compliance Agreement.[248] Vanuatu has agreed to the FAO Compliance Agreement as well as several other regional agreements.

2.3 Summary

Some open registry States are being proactive in implementing effective flag State control over their fleets, as follows.

To a great extent, actions taken have responded to pressures created by the previously unregulated activities of their fishing fleets, but they also are proactive in encouraging compliance by their fleets with international, regional and subregional fisheries conservation and management measures.

3. Regional Fisheries Management Organizations

RFMO Secretariats and members are increasingly active in promoting compliance with their respective international conservation and management measures, and implementation of the international instruments. Effective flag State control measures have been implemented by several of the RFMOs. These range in degree according to the RFMO and the problems experienced.

The following activities of RFMOs have served to promote effective flag State control:

Input was sought from RFMOs on the actions they took to address the issues associated with the activities of fishing fleets of open registry States was sought from RFMOs by questionnaire (Appendix 3). A list of the RFMOs polled is in Appendix 7. RFMOs were asked to provide information relating to the following general areas:

Of the 16 organizations that responded, [255] 10 provided information for use in this review,[256] 5 indicated that the issue was not of concern to their organization at this time,[257] and one response was not accessible.[258] The input from the ten responding RFMOs is summarized below.

3.1 Fishing Activities by Open Registry Flag Vessels

The RFMOs were asked to comment on the following matters respecting fishing activities by open registry flag vessels:

a) Identify activities of open registry vessels that are of concern to the organization.

b) Indicate whether such activities undermine conservation and management measures.

c) Identify the flags flown by open registry vessels.

d) Provide, if available, information on fleet size and vessel type.

e) Indicate whether fleet activities would be affected by the exercise of flag State responsibilities.

f) Indicate examples of effective flag State controls being exercised by open registry States over fishing vessels.

Seven of the responding RFMOs indicated an ongoing concern arising from vessels flagged in States operating an open registry.[259] The concerns include those activities which undermine fisheries conservation and management measures, including IUU fishing,[260] increasing volumes of fish being taken,[261] unlicensed fishing, unreported catches, lack of control of by-catch, and fishing in excess of allocations.[262] Failure to comply with international safety and marine pollution prevention measures also created ongoing concerns.[263]

CCAMLR reports that over the past five years the percentage of catch that is unreported has been as high as 98%. The extent of the problem in the CCAMLR Convention Area, which reports that flags of ten open registry countries fish in the Area, is shown in Appendix 9, Table 9.[264]

Six respondents identified the flags flown by open register vessels of concern to their region.[265] Belize, Honduras and Panama were cited by five of the respondents as fishing illegally, St. Vincent was cited by four respondents, Seychelles and Vanuatu by three respondents, and Cambodia, Cayman Islands,[266] Malta, Sao Tome and Principe, and Singapore[267] by two respondents. Fishing vessels operating under the following open register States were cited by the respondents as fishing illegally: Bolivia, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Netherlands Antilles, Sierra Leone, Togo, and Venezuela.

Six organizations provided information on fleet size and/or type of fishing vessels that are of concern to that organization’s area.[268] The type of vessels of greatest concern are longliners[269] and purse seiners.[270]

All responding RFMOs indicated that fleet activities would be affected by the effective exercise of flag State responsibilities. Five respondents identified Belize, Panama, Seychelles, and Vanuatu as open registry States which exercise flag State control.[271] Seychelles, Panama and Vanuatu are members of RFMOs[272] and Belize is considering joining an RFMO.[273]

Respondents reported that flag State control was exercised where RFMOs exerted pressure on an open registry State or its fishing vessels, including the imposition of trade measures and fines. For example, ICCAT and CCSBT implemented trade measures which pressured open registry States to comply with the respective RFMOs’ conservation and management measures.[274]

Actions were also taken by Panama in 1993 against Panama-flagged vessels on the basis of evidentiary material provided by NAFO. Panamanian authorities imposed fines of approximately $2000 CDN against 11 Panamanian flagged vessels that had been sighted in the NAFO Area. Eventually, the Panamanian Government withdrew registration of these vessels.

3.2 Open Registry States and the RFMOs

The organizations were asked to respond to the following questions respecting the interaction between RFMOs and open registry States.

a) Do member States operate open registries?

b) Does the organization require the exercise of flag State responsibilities in its Convention or other establishing instrument?

c) Does the organization support the implementation among its members of the relevant international instruments?

d) Does the organization seek ways of cooperating with open registry States to work towards more effective flag State control?

e) Has the organization taken measures in relation to open registry States such as adoption of resolutions, refusal of allocations or implementation of sanctions if there is no effective flag State control?

Four of the RFMOs had member States that operate open registers.[275]

Nine of the responding organizations require the exercise of flag State responsibilities in its Convention or other establishing instrument.[276] For example, NPAFC’s Convention Article V-1 provides that “Each Party shall take all necessary measures to ensure that its nationals and fishing vessels flying its flag comply with the provisions of this Convention.” And in Article IV-3, “Each Party shall take appropriate measures aimed at preventing vessels registered under its laws and regulations from transferring for the purpose of avoiding compliance with the provisions of this Convention.

Seven of the responding RFMOs also support the implementation among its members of the relevant international instruments.[277] Two RFMOs did not answer this question directly[278] and one RFMO indicated that it supported the implementation of the substance of the international agreements, although the organization itself had not implemented any of the identified international instruments.[279]

Seven of the responding RFMOs indicated ways they cooperate with open registry States to work towards more effective flag State control.[280] Six organizations have taken measures in relation to open registry States. Examples of these cooperative measures include:

Six RFMOs also regularly invite open registry States to participate in the RFMO.[282] Two RFMOs[283] indicated that cooperation with open registry States was not an issue.

3.3 Sanctions and Enforcement against Open Registry Fishing Vessels

The RFMOs were asked to provide information on sanctions and enforcement where effective flag State control is not exercised. The questions appear below.

a) Has the organization adopted any policies, resolutions or sanctions in respect of open registry fishing vessels where there is no effective flag State control?

b) Does the organization have any information on enforcement measures that have been taken in relation to offences committed by open registry fishing vessels?

Five organizations identified sanction measures they had implemented against open registry States not exercising effective flag State control.[284] Sanctions included trade related measures[285] and diplomatic actions.[286] The trade-related actions implemented by CCAMLR, CCSBT and ICCAT have had significant positive impacts in securing compliance with respective Convention conservation and management measures. These are briefly reviewed below.

In 1999 CCAMLR introduced an innovative catch certification system[287] to address the increasingly serious illegal fishing of Patagonian toothfish.[288] The system “traces” the Patagonian toothfish from the moment it is caught until it is bought by the consumer. This compulsory labeling is monitored and validated at every step of the process. If it is not in conformity, the RFMO Member States are required to reject the product.

Data provided to CCSBT indicated that up to 1999 there had been significant and increasing volumes of southern bluefin tuna (SBT) (up to 15% of the catch) being taken by open registry vessels. To deter this IUU fishing, the CCSBT implemented a Trade Information Scheme (TIS)[289] which denies access to markets for SBT.

The TIS provides that all members of the CCSBT maintain requirements for all imports of SBT to be accompanied by a completed CCSBT Statistical Document.[290] Shipments not accompanied by this form must be denied entry by the member country. All exports of SBT from countries and entities without responsibilities as flag State into member countries of CCSBT are basically refused by the import country. Considering that Japan is a Member State and is effectively the only importing country in the world, this is a very effective management system for SBT. The volume of trade from the countries identified by the CCCSBT has declined significantly since the introduction of the TIS.

ICCAT has taken non-discriminatory and non-restrictive trade measures against non-Contracting[291] and Contracting Parties.[292] In 1993 and 1994 ICCAT established a Bluefin Tuna Statistical Document (BTSD) Program which requires that all bluefin tuna imported into a Contracting Party must be accompanied by a BTSD, validated by an authorised government official.[293] ICCAT has been able to compile considerable information on unreported catches through this program.[294]

These measures and other associated measures[295] (Appendix 8) have had considerable impact. The BTSD identified all bluefin tuna caught illegally by flag. The trade measures resulted in many impacted States initiating measures to monitor and control the vessels registered to them. For example, Panama has cancelled all the licences of fishing vessels for tuna and new licences are only granted to those that obtain an international fishing licence from Panamanian authorities. The Panamanian Government has also prohibited the catch of bluefin tuna.

These ICCAT measures have also resulted in increased membership in ICCAT and investigation by flag States whose vessels appeared in ICCAT’s IUU list.

Three organizations provided information on enforcement measures taken against vessels which had committed offences.[296] This information is reproduced under Part IV.4, below, “Offences”.

3.4 Summary

IUU fishing activities by open registry vessels undermine the conservation and management measures of many RFMOs. Effective flag State control would significantly improve the situation. To this end, RFMOs have taken a number of actions over the past decade to address the problems posed by flag of convenience vessels and IUU fishing. They are well positioned to do this both as a Secretariat and through its members.

Key pressures imposed by RFMOs which activated flag State control include trade-related measures,[297] deregistration[298] and the imposition of fines.[299] These have successfully persuaded States to become members of RFMOs or comply with conservation measures. [300] The trend of increasing cooperation among RFMOs is particularly effective in the campaign to prevent and deter the undermining of conservation and management measures. [301]

4. Enforcement Measures

Recipients of both questionnaires - open registry States and RFMOs - were asked to provide information on enforcement measures taken in respect of offences committed by open register fishing vessels during the period 1995-2001. All responding open registry States and three RFMOs provided the information described below.

4.1 Open Registry States

A summary of offences for Belize, Cook Islands and Vanuatu is provided in Appendix 9, Table 10. It shows seventeen offences by Belize vessels, one each by a vessel from the Cook Islands and three flying the Vanuatu flag. Unfortunately, in most cases information was not submitted on the type of fishing vessel involved. Most vessels were found guilty of violating fishing regulations or measures (and one for drug trafficking), in various locations. Fifteen of Belize’s vessels and all three of Vanuatu’s were deregistered.

Significantly, where fines were imposed, they ranged from $10 000 to $30 000, which may be relatively modest in relation to the value of the resource fished.

Malta reported that during 1995-2001 there were no reports of offences in respect of Maltese fishing vessels.

4.2 Regional Fishery Management Organizations

4.2.1 CCAMLR

The enforcement measures taken by CCAMLR in relation to offences committed by open register vessels appear in Appendix 9, Table 11. Belize deregistered four vessels that engaged in IUU fishing, and issued a warning to one other.

CCAMLR issued several submissions to Panama on IUU fishing activities by its flag vessels, and Panama provided CCAMLR with a list of all its vessels licensed to fish on the high seas in the Southern Oceans. Panama advised that no licences had been issued for the CCAMLR Convention Area.

CCAMLR advised Vanuatu of sightings of Vanuatu-flagged vessels in the Convention Area in 1997 and 1998, and Vanuatu notified CCAMLR that vessels proved to have committed an offence will be considered for suspension or deletion from its registry.

4.2.2 NPFAC

NPFAC reported illegal fishing by a Honduran flagged vessel in 2000. The vessel was seized by the US Coast Guard with the Honduran Government’s cooperation and forfeited under the U.S. District Court decree. The crew was repatriated and the vessel was ordered to be sold at a public auction.

4.2.3 FFA

Information on reported violations of fisheries legislation held in the FFA Violations and Prosecutions (VAP) database provides an indication of the level and type of violations that have occurred over the past 20 years in the EEZs of member countries. [302] It also indicates the relative success of the combination of legal and technical elements of fishing vessel administration and monitoring in creating a strong compliance environment in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean region.

le the number of reported violations has fluctuated with the rise and fall of fishing activity in recent years, it appears that the compliance environment that has been created in the region has had a positive effect in reducing the illegal activities of fishing vessels in the waters of FFA member States. Throughout this period, it also appears that the background level of IUU fishing, while low, has been relatively constant.[303]

The number of recorded violations for the period 1978-2001 is dominated by Taiwanese vessels (40 per cent), particularly longliners. Japanese longliners (14%) and Korean (9%) and Taiwanese (8.5%) purse seiners also figure prominently. FOC vessels (Belize, Panama, Honduras) do not contribute significantly to the total number of violations.[305]

However, the percentage rate of violations (number of violations by flag compared with the size of each fleet active in the region) shows that some of the smaller fleets, such as Belize, have a higher percentage violation rate than the larger fleets of Japan and China. For example, in 1995, 30% of Belize’s fleet and 20% of Vanuatu’s fleet were involved in violations compared to 3.8% of Korea’s and 1.8% of China’s fleets.

A summary of violations by flag and type of violation[306] indicates that illegal fishing accounts for 64% of the recorded violations, while non-compliance with licences accounts for 25%. Breach of national law and international law account for 9% and 0.6% respectively.

At least USD12.4 million has been received during the period 1978-2001 in fines by FFA members.[307] Approximately 7.5% of these fines were paid by vessels operating under the open registers of Belize, Honduras, Marshall Islands and Panama.

5. Summary

Of the 20 offences described by open registry States, 16 resulted in deregistration of the offending vessel(s), five resulted in fines up to $50,000, four resulted in fines and deregistration, and two had no follow-up action. RFMOs reported that open registry States took similar actions (i.e. deregistration and payment of fines) for violations in the relevant Convention Areas. In the FFA region, a higher proportion of fleets registered in open registry States were cited for violations compared to other fishing fleets.

[213] Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, SAR, Equatorial Guinea, Honduras, Liberia, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Netherlands Antilles, Cook Islands, Panama, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Togo, Tonga, United Kingdom (Bermuda, Gibraltar, Isle of Man), Vanuatu.
[214] Canada was successful in concluding bilateral agreements on flag State control with open register States such as Panama in the mid-1990s, but Canadian officials did not provide the relevant information when requested.
[215] Information regarding the States that operate open registers was received from FAO, ITF, RFMOs and various websites. The list may be incomplete. Not all States on the list were contacted.
[216] Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, China, Hong Kong, SAR, Liberia, and Singapore.
[217] Antigua and Barbuda, Cambodia, Cayman Islands, Honduras, Netherlands Antilles, Panama and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, obtained from
[218] Belize, Cook Islands and Malta.
[219] Vanuatu.
[220] Belize, Cook Islands, Malta, Vanuatu. Cambodia and Honduras (See
[221] Belize does not accept vessels over 30 years old.
[222] Cook Islands requires special process for vessels over 15 years old. Malta and Vanuatu also have inspection requirements for older vessels.
[223] Malta and Vanuatu, but note that Malta’s nationality requirements are easy to meet. Vanuatu’s nationality requirements can be waived if there is an absolute and genuine need (not defined). Establishment of a company in Vanuatu is a relatively simple and quick process.
[224] However, only fishing vessels 6 metres and over must be registered.
[226] Registration of Merchant Ships (Disciplinary) Regulations, 1999-S.I. Number 56.
[227] See Part IV, 2b.
[228] Merchant Shipping Act, Articles 28 and 29, “Closure of Registry”.
[229] CAP 131.
[230] Of the 101 vessels denounced by ICCAT, 61 were included on the Honduran registry.
[231] Report of the 9th Meeting of the Permanent Working Group for the Improvement of ICCAT Statistics and Conservation Measures (PWG), November 2000.
[232] Ibid. Appendix 6 to Appendix 10.
[233] Article 94.
[234] Elements of the Immarbe Action Plan include:
Introduction of tonnage tax reductions of 25% for vessels operating safety for 12 months and 35% for two years’ safe operation, the criteria being based on port state control detentions.
For vessels over 7 500 tons, only those classed by members of the International Association of Classification Societies would be acceptable.
Requirement for third party liability insurance
Requirement that vessels had to be ISM compliant
Phase III to address improving quality below 7 500 tons; expected to be in place in June 2002
Phases IV and V to address quality and environmental concerns, plus the formation of a Belize Owners’ Advisory Council.
The register is to continue talks with Japan, European Union, Canada and the U.S. over fishing issues with a view to seeing sanctions against Belize lifted by the end of 2002.
The register intends to introduce a raft of International Maritime Organization Conventions, International Labour Organization codes and guidelines “in order to improve the quality of ships on the register and to render it more acceptable to quality owners, their lawyers, and bankers.”
[235] Lloyd’s List Registers Wednesday January 16, 2002 “Belize flag weeds out 668 ships to polish tarnished image”.
[236] Registration of Merchant Ships (Disciplinary) Regulations, 1999-S.I. Number 56 and Registration of Merchant Ships (Fishing Vessels of 24 metres in length and above) Safety Regulations, 1995, section 27(1).
[237] Shipping Amendment Act 2000, No. 21, Part III.
[238] Legislation not provided.
[239] This matter falls within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Marine Resources, which was unable to provide input to the questionnaire responses prior to the deadline for incorporation into this paper.
[240] Merchant Shipping Act (Cap. 234), particularly Articles 28 and 29 on “Closure of Registry” and the Fisheries Conservation and Management Act (Cap 425), 2001.
[241] Malta indicated that steps are being taken to address this issue.
[242] Fisheries Conservation and Management Act, CAP 425, 2001.
[243] Ownership criteria in the Tuna Management Plan require that the vessel is “wholly owned and controlled by any company, society or other association of persons incorporated or established under the laws of Vanuatu, of which at least 51% of the shares are owned by citizens of Vanuatu”.
[244] Malta is a member of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean and ICCAT. Belize participates as an observer on ICCAT and expressed an intention to become a cooperating member in the near future.
[245] CCAMLR, IATTC, Palau Arrangement, and the FSM Arrangement.
[246] Belize has ratified and enforces the Fishing and Conservation of the Living Resources of the High Seas Convention 1958. Belize also follows the conservation policies of ICCAT, IATTC, CCAMLR, IOTC, NAFO, NEAFC.
[247] Fisheries Conservation and Management Act (Chapter 425) adopted 4 June 2001.
[248] Malta participated in both the Technical Consultations on the issue of IUU fishing and has agreed to the adoption of the IPOA at the COFI meeting held in March 2001.
[249] See details on responses to questionnaire.
[250] NAFO states that currently there are no open registry vessels fishing in NAFO Area and that such activity is not anticipated to occur on a large scale in the near future due to actions by NAFO as well as the application of international instruments developed by UN FAO.
[251] For example, IOTC, IATTC.
[252] Fishery Rules of the IBSFC, Rule 2.1 “Vessels flying the flag other than the one of the Contracting Party in whose waters they are fishing, outside of fisheries agreement between Contracting Parties or with a third country, shall have a specific authorization for a defined fishing activity from the official authorities of that Contracting Party and the flag state. The relevant authorities of the Authorizing Contracting Party under whose quota the fishing shall take place shall, prior to the commencement of the fishery, communicate to the IBSFC Secretariat the conditions under which this fishery can take place, specifying: the species, the quantities in live weight, the period of the fisheries, the name(s) of the vessel(s). A reference to the written authorization must be made in the logbook. When landing the catch the written authorization to fish in that Contracting Party’s zone must be shown on request to the competent control authorities.”
[253] The authorization must be within the Contracting Party’s quota and specify the species, quantity, period of fishing and name of vessel. Reference to the authorization must be made in the logbook and produced upon request by control authorities. By this method, IBSFC controls and monitors fishing activity. According to IBSFC, there have been no reports of violations of fisheries conservation and management measures by vessels registered in open registry States.
[254] e.g. IOTC.
[256] CCAMLR, CCSBT, FFA, IOTC, NAFO, and NPAFC responded to the specific questions in the questionnaire. IBSFC, IATTC, ICCAT and NASCO provided information in various forms including a letter, resolutions, papers and/or electronic responses.
[257] IPHC, IWC, LVFO, NAMMCO, PSC. IWC indicated that a moratorium on commercial whaling ahs been in effect since 1986. The moratorium will not be lifted until a revised management scheme is in place which scheme will include provisions for inspection, observation and vessel registers.
[258] SEAFO’s electronic response was provided, but could not be accessed. No additional responses were provided.
[259] CCAMLR, CCSBT, FFA, ICCAT, IATTC, IOTC, NPAFC. NAFO and NASCO indicated that there had been problems in the past, but that there were no current concerns. IBSFC did not indicate any issues concerning the activities of open registry vessels.
[261] CCSBT.
[262] NAFO.
[263] FFA.
[264] CCAMLR reported the flags of Belize, Bolivia, Honduras, Panama, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Vanuatu, and Togo.
[265] CCAMLR indicated the flags of Belize, Bolivia, Honduras, Panama, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Vanuatu, and Togo.
CCSBT indicated flags of Belize, Cambodia, Equatorial Guinea, and Honduras.
IATTC indicated the flags of Belize, Honduras, Panama, St. Vincent, and Vanuatu.
ICCAT indicated flags of Belize, Honduras and Panama.
IOTC indicated that flags of Cambodia, Cayman Islands, Belize, Liberia, Malta, Netherlands Antilles, Panama, Seychelles, Singapore, St. Vincent, and Vanuatu.
NAFO indicated that in the 1980s and 1990s the flags of concern were from Belize, Cayman Islands, Honduras, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Panama, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Vanuatu, and Venezuela.
[266] Cayman Islands responded to the questionnaire that it does not register fishing vessels.
[267] Singapore responded to the questionnaire that it does not register fishing vessels.
[270] FFA, IOTC.
[272] Seychelles is a member of IOTC. Panama and Vanuatu are members of IAATC.
[273] IOTC indicated that Belize and Vanuatu are considering joining IOTC and are then expected to exercise flag State control.
[274] See Part IV, Section 3©.
[275] FFA (Marshall Islands, Vanuatu, Tonga, Samoa, Tuvalu, Cook Islands), IOTC (Seychelles), IATTC (Panama, Vanuatu), ICCAT (Barbados, Bermuda, Equatorial Guinea, Honduras, Morocco, Panama, Sao Tome and Principe).
[278] IATTC and IBSFC.
[279] CCSBT notes that although it has not yet formally adopted any of the relevant instruments, there is broad consistency between the Code of Conduct, the UN Fish Stocks Agreement and the CCSBT Convention.
[281] CCAMLR, ICCAT, IOTC, and NASCO have adopted resolutions; CCSBT has adopted a Tuna Statistical Document Program (CCSBT TIS) and the CCSBT Action Plan. IOTC has also adopted a certificate program for bigeye tuna traded internationally. NAFO has legal provisions and Conservation and Enforcement Measures as well as “the Scheme to Promote Compliance by non-Contracting Party Vessels with the Conservation and Enforcement Measures Established by NAFO” 1997.
[282] CCAMLR, CCSBT, FFA, ICCAT, IOTC, NAFO. All coastal States within the NASCO Convention Area with Atlantic salmon interests are Parties to NASCO except St. Pierre and Miquelon. The issue of whether or not to invite France (in respect of St. Pierre and Miquelon) to become a Contracting Party to NASCO is under consideration (CNL(01)68).
[283] NASCO (see footnote 101) and NPAFC.
[286] NAFO established a Standing Committee on non-Contracting Party Activities which develop diplomatic demarches to Non-Contracting Party vessel Governments fishing in the NAFO Area. All Contracting Parties undertake their diplomatic contacts to those Governments. NASCO also uses diplomatic channels to address activities of non-Contracting Parties. ICCAT also sends diplomatic dimarches to countries that do not cooperate with ICCAT measures.
[287] Conservation Measure 170/XX Catch Documentation Scheme for Dissostichus spp.
[288] The problem is exclusively associated with longliners of which there have been over 130 sightings since 1997. Non-Contracting Parties whose vessels have been sighted and/or reported fishing in the Convention Area include: Belize, Bolivia, Honduras, Panama, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Vanuatu, Togo.
[289] June 2000.
[290] The document must be endorsed by an authorized competent authority in the exporting country and include extensive details of the shipment, including name of fishing vessel, gear type, area of catch, and dates of catch.
[291] As of 1999, prohibitions of imports of products of the pertinent species from Belize, Honduras and Panama. The sanctions were lifted against Panama when Panama demonstrated it had taken appropriate effective measures. See footnote 108.
[292] As of 1999, actions have been taken against Equatorial Guinea. See footnote 108.
[293] The signature and seal of this government official must have been previously registered with ICCAT.
[294] Case Study: How ICCAT is Combating IUU Fishing Activities, by Peter Miyake, PhD, ICCAT Assistant Executive Secretary, reproduced in European Parliament Committee on Fisheries Working Document 2 on the role of flags of convenience in the fisheries sector, 11 April 2001; rapporteur Patricia McKenna.
[295] Other measures associated with BTSD: Adoption of Port Inspection Scheme (1997); Establishment of a Vessel Sighting System to report IUU activities (1994, 1997); A vessel registry system (large pelagic longliners: 1994); A scheme to monitor the landings and transhipments of foreign vessels (1997
[297] e.g. the imposition of trade certificate programs by CCAMLR and CCSBT have pressured open registry States to exercise effective flag State control and comply with the conservation and management measures of the relevant Convention.
[298] e.g. deregsitration of vessels in response to ICCAT pressure.
[299] e.g. the imposition of fines by Panama against Panama-flagged vessels and the eventual withdrawal of these vessels from Panama’s register.
[300] e.g. as a result of ICCAT measures, Panama joined ICCAT. CCAMLR and CCSBT expressed similar positive results.
[301] e.g. the certificate programmes adopted by CCSBT and IOTC have resulted in the exchange of information which assists in improving management of relevant fisheries. Also, the many resolutions passed by CCAMLR, IOTC, ICCAT and NASCO, the Action Plan adopted by CCSBT, and Conservation and Enforcement Measures adopted by NAFO encourage cooperation among States to better conserve and manage the relevant fisheries through information sharing and effective flag State control.
[302] Reported Fisheries Violations in the EEZs of FFA Member Countries, 1978 – 2001: An Analysis of the Violations and Prosecutions Database, FFA Report No. 01/18.
[303] An analysis of the VAP database illustrates a steady increase in the total number of recorded violations from 1992 to 1994, coinciding with the influx to the region of small longliners from China and the implementation by FAA members of the Harmonised Terms and Conditions For Foreign Fishing Vessel Access (MTCs).304 The marked decline in the number of violations after 1995 could be due to the departure from the region of small Chinese longliners and the existence in the region of a more effective compliance environment, including the development and implementation of the FFA members countries’ vessel monitoring system. The rapid increase in recorded violations from 1992–1994 and the subsequent decline in the following years also coincides with the fluctuations in numbers of vessels, mainly longline vessels, in good standing on the Regional Register during this period. Also, an estimate of the level of IUU fishing in the indicates that the number of vessels not in good standing at the time of the violation remained relatively constant from 1992 to 2000, despite the relatively high total number of violating vessels from 1992-1995. This suggests that there has existed, and continues to exist, a low and constant level of IUU fishing in the region during this period.
[305] Reported Fisheries Violations in the EEZs of FFA Member Countries, 1978–2001: An Analysis of the Violations and Prosecutions Database, FFA Report No. 01/18.
[306] i.e. illegal fishing, breach of national law, licence non-compliance, breach of international law.
[307] The fines range from USD126 to USD1 400 000.

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page