FAO Fisheries Report No. 597 FIPL/R597(En)
Report of the
MEETING OF FAO AND NON-FAO REGIONAL FISHERY BODIES OR ARRANGEMENTS
Rome, 11-12 February 1999
FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS
PREPARATION OF THIS REPORT
This is the final report approved by the meeting of FAO and Non-FAO Regional Fishery Bodies or Arrangements.
Report of the Meeting of FAO and Non-FAO Regional Fishery Bodies or
Arrangements. Rome, 11-12 February 1999.
FAO Fisheries Report. No.597. Rome, FAO. 1999. 53p.
A meeting of FAO and Non-FAO Regional Fishery Bodies or Arrangements was held at FAO Headquarters, Rome, on 11 and 12 February 1999. Representatives from 20 bodies participated. The Meeting discussed three main items: major issues affecting the performance of regional fishery bodies (RFB); a multifaceted approach to fishery status and trends reporting; and regional fishery bodies as vehicles for good fishery governance. The meeting reached a number of conclusions regarding matters meriting the attention of RFBs, governments and FAO. In particular, it stressed the importance of the precautionary approach for fisheries management and governance and of involving all stakeholders in developing management measures, and urged to continue to adapt their mandates, structures and policies in order to respond better to the challenges facing world fisheries. It expressed its concern over the problems arising from over-capacity in fisheries and the lack of sufficient progress in improving the monitoring and enforcement of management measures. The participants expressed their appreciation at the opportunity afforded by the meeting to share experiences and view upon often common problems and recommended that further such meetings should be held regularly, with FAO as focal point, preferably prior to future sessions of the FAO Committee on Fisheries.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
MAJOR ISSUES AFFECTING THE PERFORMANCE OF REGIONAL FISHERY BODIES
A MULTIFACETED APPROACH TO FISHERY STATUS AND TRENDS REPORTING
ADOPTION OF THE REPORT
1. A Meeting of FAO and Non-FAO Regional Fishery Bodies or Arrangements was held on 11 and 12 February 1999 at FAO Headquarters, Rome. Representatives from 18 regional fishery bodies (7 FAO and 11 non-FAO) participated. Representatives from the Coordinating Working Party on Fishery Statistics (CWP) and the Permanent Commission for the South Pacific (CPPS) also participated. A List of Participants is given in Appendix B.
2. The Assistant Director-General, Fisheries Department, Mr. Moritaka Hayashi, opened the meeting. Noting that this was the first opportunity that both FAO and non-FAO regional fishery bodies had had of meeting together since 1976, he expressed the hope that this would be fruitful occasion for the further promotion of coordination and cooperation between the varied bodies concerned. FAO was honoured and pleased to be able to act as a facilitating and catalytic forum for such an exchange of views and sharing of experiences on what were often common problems and responsibilities. He underlined the important roles which regional bodies were increasingly being asked to play in the implementation of international instruments regarding the sustainable management and governance of fish stocks, especially in respect of precautionary approaches to management and the need for better control and monitoring of the fisheries. The text of his opening remarks is given in Appendix D.
3. The Meeting adopted the Agenda presented in Appendix A. A list of the documents placed before the meeting is given in Appendix C. The full texts of the working documents are reproduced in Appendices E, F and G.
4. The Meeting was chaired by Mr Hayashi and the FAO Secretariat served as Rapporteur.
MAJOR ISSUES AFFECTING THE PERFORMANCE OF REGIONAL FISHERY BODIES
5. The Secretariat, introducing Agenda Item 3 and document FI:RFB/99/2, noted that there were over thirty regional fishery bodies (RFBs) operating world wide. Nine had been established under the FAO Constitution (FAO bodies) and 24 were created under international agreements between three or more contracting parties. There were many significant differences between FAO and non-FAO bodies, not only in their types of competence but also in mandates, functions, structures and financial resources. However, recent international instruments concerning fisheries conservation and management, notably the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, the Compliance Agreement2 and the Fish Stocks Agreement2, underlined the need for all such bodies to be strengthened appropriately to deal with new, additional responsibilities.
6. The meeting’s discussions concentrated, inter alia, on the following issues:
- ways for RFBs to promote the implementation of the recent series of international instruments and initiatives;
- improved means of promoting the precautionary approach to fisheries management;
- better mechanisms for the exchange of information among RFBs and between RFBs and FAO;
- the prospects for closer collaboration between RFBs on a geographic or species basis and means to improve such collaboration; and
- mechanisms to promote further the global coordination of the activities of RFBs.
7. A number of representatives described the new strategies they were evolving and special actions being taken to respond to the requirements of the recent series of international instruments on fisheries. In this regard, there was widespread agreement regarding the importance of involving all the stakeholders concerned with the fisheries. This was held to be particularly the case in respect of precautionary approaches to fisheries management, where the collaboration of scientists, the fishermen and, where appropriate, international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and similar civil society organizations should be sought, although it was emphasized that the management authority had the ultimate responsibilities.
8. Participants held differing views upon the relative importance of socio-economic considerations when determining precautionary policies. Some representatives maintained that precautionary priorities should be given greater emphasis than socio-economic issues; others, particularly representatives of FAO RFBs, drew attention to the importance of small-scale artisanal fisheries in their areas of competence and to the very complex issues such RFBs often faced in dealing with tropical multispecies fisheries.
9. Similarly, there were diverse views on the involvement of NGOs in the elaboration of precautionary and other management policies. Some representatives counselled caution in this regard. Others maintained that such involvement of NGOs and user groups had been positive; through such participation, such organizations had begun to understand better the difficulties and complexities implicit in management schemes and, at the same time, RFBs became more aware of the concerns of other parties.
10. There was a consensus among the participants regarding the importance, within the context of precautionary and other management approaches, of reinforcing the efficiency of monitoring, control and enforcement measures. The actions already taken in this respect within their own areas of competence, including joint enforcement schemes under which contracting parties can inspect vessels of other contracting parties, were described by a number of representatives.
11. Some representatives described the steps they were taking to collaborate with other, often adjacent, RFBs and to exchange information and experiences. It was suggested that RFB managers should meet regularly and exchange experience and coordinate efforts as appropriate.
12. The participants expressed their appreciation, in this regard, for FAO’s initiative in convening the present meeting and recommended that such meetings should be held regularly, with FAO as focal point, optimally prior to future sessions of COFI. Some representatives suggested that FAO should serve as a clearing house for the dissemination of information on RFB activities in fisheries.
13. The Executive Secretary of CCAMLR commented on the interest that document FI:RFB/99/Inf.6 – A Review of Measures taken by Regional Marine Fishery Bodies to Address Contemporary Fishery Issues had for his organization but expressed regret that certain paragraphs in it reflected a historical perspective of the late 1980s and had no bearing on the present situation.
14. It was agreed that FAO would make the appropriate rectifications before the document was widely distributed.
A MULTIFACETED APPROACH TO FISHERY STATUS AND TRENDS REPORTING
15. The Secretariat, introducing Agenda item 4 on the basis of document FI:RFB/99/3, noted the increasing demand for objective, unbiased, peer reviewed and transparent information on the status of fisheries and fishery resources. As legal frameworks have been strengthened and institutional change is on going, demand is growing for the upgrading of available information, as a contribution to transparency and objectivity and as a means of mitigating or avoiding potential misinformation and manipulation. The increased attention has resulted in closer scrutiny and increased visibility of information published by FAO and regional fishery bodies.
16. Some of the data required for effective management may not be collected and some of the recent information on trends may not be easily and readily available. It was recalled that the Advisory Committee on Fisheries Research (ACFR) at its first session (November 1997) identified some of the major gaps in information and data, the availability of which would improve substantially the quality of the FAO global studies on trends. These studies have a very wide audience and they have played an important role in raising public interest in the fisheries sector. The increasing attention being given by the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) to a module of Living Marine Resources (LMR), calls for a critical evaluation of data gaps and needs. This work will be undertaken initially by an FAO Working Group on Status and Trends in Fisheries, as recommended by ACFR.
17. Most regional and global fishery organizations provide reviews of the status of fishery resources that fall within their competence; in this process the type of information collected may differ according to the functions and tasks of the RFB. FAO draws heavily on such information when preparing global reviews. The multifaceted approach proposed by ACFR proposes strengthening global reviews by utilizing more comprehensive data in conjunction with regional fishery bodies and independent experts through a cooperative global partnership.
18. Dr. Sissenwine, Chairman of the FAO Advisory Committee on Fisheries Research (ACFR) described the work of his Committee. He highlighted the importance of broadening status and trends reporting by including socio-economic aspects of fisheries in addition to resource status. He also emphasized the need to make the process of preparing status and trends reports more inclusive and transparent, and so harmonize this effort with planning of LMRs GOOS.
19. Concerning fishery statistics, the meeting noted that the basic responsibility for promoting enhanced fishery data collection systems is with countries. The Coordinating Working Party on Fishery Statistics (CWP) is an example of successful inter-agency collaboration on fishery statistics and has greatly enhanced the harmonization of definitions and concepts, reporting formats and classifications. It has also coordinated statistical programmes and reduced discrepancies among organizations’ databases.
20. In the ensuing discussion, some representatives noted the benefits of their long-standing participation in the CWP. Visible achievements of this cooperative work are the harmonization of standards and the promotion of international comparability, as well as the validation of the data through a continuous exercise for eliminating discrepancies in respective databases. Some RFBs which are not members of the CWP indicated their willingness to consider joining the CWP after closer scrutiny of the information available on its purpose and functions.
21. One representative referred to the need to establish minimum national standards for reporting catch statistics to avoid the problem of data incomparability. It was noted that there are no agreed overall minimum standards although the UN Fish Stock Agreement specifies requirements for straddling fish stocks and highly migratory stocks.
22. The meeting noted that while the table annexed to document FI:RBF/99/3, compiled in 1993, was in certain instances in need of revision and updating, it nevertheless contained relevant and useful information, including that on financial resources, one of the constraining factors on the statistical programmes of the fishery bodies. It suggested that FAO should update the table in consultation with the RFBs.
23. The meeting considered the possibility of RFBs collaborating in the work of the ACFR Working Party on Status and Trends of Fisheries. Suggestions were made as to the type of work to which the WP should assign priority. The WP should give priority to the review of the current approach FAO uses for status and trends reporting, the sources of information available at regional level and to making reporting more harmonious. It was further suggested that the WP should concentrate on the most comprehensive way of assembling and presenting the information, not on reviewing stock assessments methods.
24. Concern was expressed regarding factors that may detract from the value of analyses (e.g., non-reported catches). Some representatives noted the usefulness of appropriate trade data for estimating non-reported catches of some species. It was further noted that RFBs should obtain information on transhipments, and landings of flags of convenience vessels, as there is risk of double counting.
25. The Secretariat presented the essential features of an on-going Fisheries Global Information System (FIGIS) project, which will eventually be developed as an Internet-based global fishery information system. Initially its components will be FAO fishery information products. FIGIS could later develop in collaboration among international and regional organizations dealing with fisheries. Since a number of fishery bodies collect and analyse fishery data and make fishery assessments, creating an environment where these analyses were easily accessible on a global scale would be very valuable.
26. The meeting noted that in most organizations there are rules regulating the handling of confidential data and information. This type of information would not be disclosed even in a partnership agreement to pool data and information. Nevertheless many representatives expressed support for the project and its aims. Although most RFBs were not presently in a position to commit themselves to the project, there was a wide interest in receiving more information from FAO specifically on the question of a harmonized format for the eventual supply of the information. Some representatives emphasized the importance of regional presentation of the information in FIGIS.
REGIONAL FISHERY BODIES OR ARRANGEMENTS AS VEHICLES FOR GOOD FISHERY GOVERNANCE
27. The Secretariat introduced document FI:RFB/99/4 which highlighted the essential role of regional fisheries organizations and arrangements in regional fisheries governance. Generally slow progress made by regional fisheries bodies in addressing the problem of overfishing was reported. Amongst the factors hindering progress, the Secretariat emphasized the failure by some States to accept and implement relevant international instruments, a lack of willingness by some States to delegate sufficient responsibility to regional bodies and the lack of enforcement of management measures at both national and regional level. The Meeting was invited to review the issues and challenges which were being faced by regional fisheries bodies in working towards good fishery governance.
28. The Meeting congratulated the Secretariat on document FI:RFB/99/4 but stressed that, because of its general nature, not all the statements were applicable to all bodies.
29. The discussion demonstrated the clear difference in the issues and problems being faced by those FAO regional fishery bodies which were not autonomously funded and the non-FAO bodies. Funding was a key problem in the FAO bodies which relied on either FAO funds or extra-budgetary funds being channelled through FAO to cover their expenses. These funds were much more limited now than previously and hence these bodies were unable to make meaningful progress in building sufficient capacity or promoting the research necessary for good regional governance of fisheries.
30. A more fundamental problem being faced by some FAO bodies was that in general the member countries had not accepted ownership of and responsibility for the FAO regional bodies and saw them as being FAO organizations. Hence their level of commitment to them was comparatively low and there had been little willingness to delegate to these bodies any mandate for regional management of fisheries. The functions of the FAO bodies were therefore largely limited to advisory roles and providing opportunities for discussion and training.
31. Another feature of the FAO bodies, although shared by some of the non-FAO bodies such as SEAFDEC, was the importance of small-scale, multispecies fisheries within their mandated areas. These fisheries were not amenable to the conventional methods of assessment or management which were most appropriate for commercial, single-species fisheries. It was suggested that community-based management approaches were required for good governance in these regions. The difficulty of identifying suitable management units within these regions was also raised as a problem requiring attention. Defining functional stock boundaries required taking due cognizance of stock, political and environmental boundaries as well as of fleet distribution and behaviour.
32. The non-FAO bodies were generally mandated with management functions under the rules of the agreement or convention under which they were created. The tasks and functions of these bodies tended to be clearly defined and focused, in some instances on specific resources within a region. The problems being faced by these bodies were similar and included those associated with "flags of convenience", over-capacity and methods for reaching agreement and dispute resolution.
33. The importance of adequate MCS in achieving good governance was stressed by the meeting. Several RFBs had implemented observer systems, which also increased confidence in the data received from vessels, and had or were in the process of implementing satellite tracking systems.
34. There was widespread concern about the activities of vessels flying "flags of convenience" and failing to adhere to the regulations of regional fisheries organizations and arrangements. Some organizations reported on progress in dealing with this problem. I-ATTC reported that NGO pressure on canneries to purchase tuna only from vessels certified by the Commission to be participating in the International Dolphin Conservation Programme had overcome the problem of flags of convenience in that fishery. ICCAT was also using trade measures, imposed by member countries, to take action against countries whose vessels were fishing illegally in their area of jurisdiction. It was suggested that cooperation between regional bodies against vessels carrying "flags of convenience" would be a positive step. In this regard, it was reported that some RFBs were compiling lists of vessels flying "flags of convenience" in their waters.
35. There was discussion on the general problem of over-capacity and the tendency for excess capacity to migrate between regions. It was emphasized that dealing with over-capacity also required addressing the problem of gradual increases in efficiency of individual vessels with time as a result of developing technologies.
36. There was considerable discussion on the procedures for decision-making in regional fisheries bodies. In general it was agreed that decisions reached by consensus were preferable as they enjoyed greater levels of support and compliance when implemented. However, it was also suggested that a majority voting system was important as it provided a mechanism to ensure that urgent or important actions could not be blocked by a small minority of members. Several of the bodies had an objection procedure by which members who objected to decisions of the body within a specified period were not bound by them. Where decisions were made that were advisory there could be merit in agreeing, at the same time, a timetable for implementation by the contracting parties.
37. The difficulty and slow pace of changing the agreement constituting regional fisheries bodies in response to, for example, the requirements of new international instruments on fisheries was debated. An approach followed in one Commission was to adopt changes on a provisional basis, pending later changes to the constituting agreement.
38. It was stressed that regional fisheries bodies must measure their success by results in the form of favourable trends in or status of stocks and human benefits.
39. The Secretariat referred to the recent Australian-FAO Technical Consultation on Sustainability Indicators in Marine Capture Fisheries (Sydney, Australia, 18-22 January 1999). This aimed to develop indicators for fisheries, including fisheries with limited assessment capacity, to cover stock condition, the environment, social and economic conditions and governance. The Secretariat also spoke of the increasing pressure for fisheries management to encompass ecosystem considerations and the interactions between fisheries and their environment, and to the significance for fisheries of the Convention on Biodiversity.
40. In response, some of the regional bodies indicated that they were beginning to examine, for example, the bycatch within their fisheries but referred to the difficulties, in both understanding and logistics, of implementing ecosystem management. The importance of factors outside the control of fisheries management agencies on fisheries was discussed under this heading and concern was expressed about extrinsic factors, such as pollution and environmental degradation, aquaculture, and the introduction of foreign and transgenic species, on fisheries and fisheries management. It was suggested that these themes could be addressed at a subsequent meeting of the regional fishery bodies.
41. The meeting concluded that:
i. further meetings of regional fishery bodies should be held, preferably prior to the regular sessions of COFI;
ii. FAO should serve as the focal point for such meetings and also act as a channel for the exchange and synthesis of information and experiences among regional fishery bodies;
iii. those RFBs charged with the responsibility for the management and governance of fisheries should continue their efforts to implement the precautionary approach;
iv. in developing and implementing management measures, collaboration should be sought between management authorities, scientists, fishermen, industry and, where appropriate other NGOs and stakeholders, the ultimate responsibility for decision-taking remaining with the managers;
v. regional fishery bodies should continue to review and adapt, where appropriate, their mandates, structures and strategies in order to better play their increasingly important roles in the process of achieving sustainable fisheries development and, to discharge their responsibilities in implementing the recent series of international instruments concerned with fisheries;
vi. attention should be drawn to the need for States to more widely participate in these instruments;
vii. further efforts should be made, in particular through closer collaboration among RFBs, to resolve the problems which continue to confront some regional fishery bodies as a result of the activities of non-members and vessels flying "flags of convenience"
viii. those relevant regional fishery bodies which were not already members of the Coordinating Working Party on Fishery Statistics (CWP) should be encouraged to consider participation in its work;
ix. the Advisory Committee on Fisheries Research (ACFR) Working Party on Status and Trends in Fisheries should give priority to reviewing current methodologies used by FAO in status and trends reporting and to the best ways of assembling and presenting the information;
x. the Fisheries Global Information System (FIGIS) being developed by FAO as an Internet based initiative had the potential to become a valuable means of collaboration among international and regional organizations dealing with fisheries; particularly in providing a vehicle for global monitoring of information on resources and fisheries;
xi. there was a clear difference between the issues and problems faced by some RFBs consisting mainly of developed countries and those of developing countries, particularly in respect of levels of financial support and of the complex issues involved in small-scale, multispecies fisheries;
xii. further improvements were needed, despite advances achieved by some RFBs, in the monitoring and enforcement of fisheries management measures;
xiii. the issue of over-capacity in world fisheries remained a matter of serious concern, not least because of the tendency for excess capacity to spill-over to other regions;
xiv. there was a need to address at subsequent meetings of RFBs such extrinsic factors, outside the control of fisheries management agencies, such as pollution and environmental degradation, the introduction of foreign and transgenic species, etc.
ADOPTION OF THE REPORT
42. The Chairman requested that participants might wish to offer suggestions regarding topics which might be discussed at their next meeting. In response, the representatives felt that it would be useful if the Secretariat could circulate, well in advance of any proposed date for another meeting, a tentative Provisional Agenda to which they could give their reactions.
43. The meeting adopted the present Report.
1. Opening of the Meeting.
2. Adoption of Agenda and Timetable and arrangements for the Meeting
3. Major issues affecting the performance of regional fishery bodies
4. A multifaceted approach to fishery status and trends reporting
5. Regional fishery bodies as vehicles for good fishery governance
6. Adoption of the Report.
LIST OF PARTICIPANTS
ASIA-PACIFIC FISHERY COMMISSION
Senior Fishery Officer
FAO Regional Office for Asia and the
39 Phra Atit Road
Bangkok 10200, Thailand
COMMISSION FOR THE CONSERVATION OF ANTARCTIC MARINE LIVING RESOURCES
E. DE SALAS
Executive Secretary, CCAMLR
P.O. Box 213
North Hobart, 7002
Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Piazzale della Farnesina 1
00194 Rome, Italy
Professor of the University of Siena
Dipartimento di Biologia Ambientale
c/o Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Piazzale della Farnesina 1
00194 Rome, Italy
Ministero Politiche Agricole
Via Casalotti 300
COMMISSION FOR THE CONSERVATION OF SOUTHERN BLUEFIN TUNA
Executive Secretary, CCSBT
1/19 Napier Close,
P.O. Box 37
Canberra ACT 2600, Australia
COMMISSION FOR INLAND FISHERIES OF LATIN AMERICA
A. MENA MILLAR
Senior Fisheries Officer
FAO Regional Office for Latin America
and the Caribbean (RLAC)
Avenida Dag Hammarskjöld
COMMITTEE FOR INLAND FISHERIES OF AFRICA
Fishery Liaison Officer
Secretary, CIFA Sub-Committee for the
Development and Management of
Fisheries in Lake Tanganyika
Subregional Office for Southern
and East Africa (SAFR)
6th Floor Old Mutual Centre
Cnr. J. Moyo/Third Street
P.O. Box 3730
COORDINATING WORKING PARTY ON FISHERY STATISTICS
Head of Section
Statistical Office of the European
Bâtiment Jean Monnet
Organisation for Economic Cooperation
and Development (OECD)
Directorate for Food, Agriculture and
2 , Rue André Pascal
75775 Paris Cedex 16, France
EUROPEAN INLAND FISHERIES ADVISORY COMMISSION
Senior Fishery Resources Officer
Fishery Resources Division
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
00100 Rome, Italy
FISHERY COMMITTEE FOR THE EASTERN CENTRAL ATLANTIC
Senior Fisheries Officer
Secretary of CECAF & CIFA
FAO Regional Office for Africa
PO. Box 1628
GENERAL FISHERY COMMISSION FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN
Habib BEN ALAYA
Senior Fishery Liaison Officer
Fishery Policy and Planning Division
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
00100 Rome, Italy
INTER-AMERICAN TROPICAL TUNA COMMISSION
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
8604 La Jolla Shores Drive
United States of America
INDIAN OCEAN TUNA COMMISSION
P.O. Box 1011
INTERNATIONAL BALTIC SEA FISHERY COMMISSION
00-528 Warsaw, Poland
INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION FOR THE CONSERVATION OF ATLANTIC TUNAS
Assistant Executive Secretary
C. Corazon de Maria, 8 - 6th Floor
28002 Madrid, Spain
NORTHWEST ATLANTIC FISHERIES ORGANISATION
Chairman, NAFO Fisheries Commission
Director-General of Fisheries
Directorate of Fisheries
P.O. Box 185
N-5002 Bergen, Norway
Chairman of the NAFO Scientific Council
Institute fur Seofischerei
D-22767 Hamburg, Germany
NORTHEAST ATLANTIC FISHERIES COMMISSION
200 Rue de la Loi
B-1049 Brussels, Belgium
Secretary, NEAFC (from March 1999)
427 Nobel House
17 Smith Square
London SW1P 3JR, United Kingdom
NORTH ATLANTIC SALMON CONSERVATION ORGANIZATION
11 Rutland Square
Edinburgh EH1 2AS
Scotland, United Kingdom
Director of Freshwater Fisheries
112 Reykjavik, Iceland
NORTH PACIFIC ANADROMOUS FISH COMMISSION
I. SHESTAKOVA (Mrs)
Executive Director, NPAFC
502-889 West Pender Street
Vancouver, B.C. V6C 3B2, Canada
PERMANENT SOUTH PACIFIC COMMISSION
Secretario General, CPPS
Av. Coruña No. 31.83 y Whymper
SOUTHEAST ASIAN FISHERIES DEVELOPMENT CENTER
Secretary General, SEAFDEC
Kasetsart University Campus,
Bangkhen, Bangkok 10900, Thailand
WESTERN CENTRAL ATLANTIC FISHERY COMMISSION
Regional Fisheries Officer
FAO Sub-Regional Office for the
C/o FAO Representation
P.O. Box 631C
FAO FISHERIES DEPARTMENT
Director, Fishery Resources Division
Director, Fishery Industries Division
LIST OF DOCUMENTS
Provisional Agenda and Timetable
Major Issues Affecting the Performance of Regional Fishery Bodies
A Multifacted Approach to Fishery Status and Trends Reporting
Regional Fishery Organizations or Arrangements as Vehicles for Good Fishery Governance
Provisional List of Documents
Provisional List of Participants
Statement by the Assistant Director-General, Fisheries Department
Report of the High Level Panel of External Experts in Fisheries.
Rome, Italy 26-27 January 1998
Report of the First Session of the Advisory Committe on Fisheries Research. Rome, Italy, 25-28 November 1997
A Review of Measures taken by Regional Marine Fishery Bodies to Address Contemporary Fishery Issues
The Contribution of the FAO Committee on Fisheries on Changes in Global Fishery Governance
OPENING REMARKS BY
Mr Moritaka Hayashi
Assistant Director-General, Fisheries Department
On behalf of the Fisheries Department of FAO, I welcome you to Rome, the Headquarters of FAO and to this meeting of FAO and non-FAO Regional Fishery Bodies or Arrangements. This meeting is only the second meeting of all regional fishery bodies and arrangements convened by FAO. It is certainly the first one since the adoption of the new law of the sea, which has drastically re-defined the ocean regime including the legal framework for fisheries. I am particularly pleased to see that as many as twenty bodies covering all major regions of the world, are represented here today. This is indeed an historic gathering.
The history of multilateral agreements to deal with development and management of living resources through permanent bodies or similar mechanisms is not old. With the exception of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), established in 1902, such agreements were concluded after the second world war. In 1946, seventeen countries signed the international Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. At its first sessions in 1946 and 1947, the FAO Conference recommended that the Organization took action to initiate the formulation of regional fishery bodies and listed the sea areas that should be given preference.
The Indo-Pacific Fisheries Council, now Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission (APFIC), was the first regional fishery body set up in 1948 under the FAO Constitution. Thereafter, several other regional bodies or arrangements were established both within and outside the framework of FAO. Currently, there are about 30 regional fishery bodies operating world wide.
Regional fishery bodies and arrangements have been influential in the success of many fisheries. They have also played an important role in promoting cooperation between nations in the conservation and management of resources. FAO draws heavily on the status reports of regional fishery bodies as well as those of national institutions and peer reviewed publications in order to provide global reviews which are intended to describe trends and issues and the general status of fisheries in all regions of the world.
The outcome of recent global conferences and the deliberations of the FAO Committee on Fisheries have impacted on fishery governance and the perception of the international community concerning world fishery resources and, in particular, their sustainable management and utilization. These global conferences have also contributed to the elaboration and adoption of several international instruments, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the 1995 UN Agreement on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, the 1993 FAO Compliance Agreement and the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.
These instruments call on regional fishery bodies and arrangements to undertake a number of activities. Under the Law of the Sea Convention, for example, regional bodies are expected to promote agreement between States for the conservation and development of shared stocks and the conservation of straddling stocks, as well as the conservation and optimum utilization of highly migratory stocks. Under the UN fish stocks agreement, regional bodies and arrangements are expected to assist or facilitate their members to perform a range of obligations such as agreement on conservation and management measures, evaluation of scientific advice they obtain, review of the status of stocks, agreement on standards for collection, verification and exchange of data, compilation and dissemination of statistical data, establishment of appropriate mechanisms for effective MCS and enforcement, promotion of peaceful settlement of disputes, etc.
The Compliance Agreement envisages that regional bodies facilitate the exchange among its Parties of information relating to the implementation of the Agreement.
The Code of Conduct explicitly provides that regional bodies and arrangements should collaborate in the fulfilment and implementation of the objectives and principles contained in the Code. The roles and functions they are called upon to perform are quite extensive. There are, among others: to apply a precautionary approach widely to conservation and management of resources; to promote compliance and enforcement of management measures; to adopt appropriate measures aimed at maintaining or restoring stocks at the MSY as qualified by relevant environmental and economic factors; to compile and distibute data; to determine stock specific reference points; to promote use of selective and environmentally safe gear; to promote and implement effective MCS and law enforcement mechanisms; and to facilitate their members to deter the activities of non-member vessels which engage in activities undermining effective conservation and management measures.
It is thus abundantly clear that regional fishery bodies and arrangements are called upon to play more and more important and wider roles in the conservation and management of resources. Indeed, their roles are now vital in the context of global fisheries governance. This is one of the reasons of why the High-Level Panel of External Experts convened by the Director-General in January 1998 also addressed the question.
The Panel acknowledged that the work of FAO regional fishery bodies was coordinated at the global level through the Committee on Fisheries, which provided the central framework for collaboration. However, the Panel regretted that no practical links existed between COFI and non-FAO bodies, and suggested that the missing link between should be addressed. The Panel agreed that, in spite of their shortcomings, regional fishery bodies still represented the best option for regional management and that for the majority of the existing bodies, there have been perceptibly significant improvements in performance during the last decade.
The Panel recommended that FAO should work to encourage and promote more coherent management approaches among regional fishery bodies, where possible. It also recommended that FAO should convene a special meeting of managers and secretaries of FAO and non–FAO bodies, to identify and address common problems and constraints, identify and develop strategies and mechanisms to address constraints, and share experiences and lessons learned.
I hope that the outcome of your two-day meeting will provide a sound framework for more active role of regional fishery bodies in the conservation and management of aquatic resources, and in the coordination of and activities among regional bodies as well as between regional bodies and the global mechanism, that is, the Committee on Fisheries.
I thank you and wish you every success in your work.
MAJOR ISSUES AFFECTING THE PERFORMANCE OF REGIONAL FISHERY BODIES
1. There are over thirty Regional Fishery Bodies (RFBs)3 operating worldwide. Nine of them were established under the FAO Constitution (FAO bodies) and 24 were established under international agreements between three or more contracting parties (non-FAO bodies).
2. There are several differences between FAO and non-FAO bodies:
- All FAO bodies, except the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), were established before 1982 (when the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea was adopted) and although their mandates have been reviewed, many of them have in practice purely advisory functions in support of fisheries development and management4. This is particularly the case of FAO inland RFBs5. However, non-FAO inland RFBs such as the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization, whose work is limited to well defined shared water bodies, have management functions.
- The secretariats of all FAO bodies are either provided, or assisted, by the FAO Secretariat, which also provides technical backstopping and finances most of the technical activities (working groups, etc.). The secretariats of non-FAO bodies are maintained by the members.
- FAO bodies also serve as mechanisms to train and mobilize local expertise and to progressively develop applied and management research competence with a view to encouraging self-reliance of national fisheries departments.
- Non-coastal States membership tends to be more restricted in non-FAO bodies.
- FAO bodies operate mainly in tropical and sub-tropical areas and the majority of their members are developing countries.
- The work of FAO RFBs is coordinated at the global level through the Committee on Fisheries (COFI), which provides the central framework for collaboration that is indispensable for global fishery governance. No mechanism exists to coordinate the work of non-FAO bodies.
3. Recent international instruments concerning fisheries conservation and management6 require that these bodies be strengthened to cope with new and additional management responsibilities. During the last 3 decades, a great amount of experience has been gained in the functioning of RFBs and despite their shortcomings, there have been perceptibly significant improvements in performance of several bodies during the last decade. It is anticipated that in the next decade, the greatest challenge to RFBs will be better implementation and enforcement of decisions.
4. In this regard, the 1998 High-Level Panel of External Experts in Fisheries7 endorsed the recommendation of the Twenty-second Session of COFI and the Twenty-ninth Session of the FAO Conference that FAO bodies should be reviewed and evaluated by their members to determine what measures might be taken to facilitate the strengthening of each body. The Panel of External Experts further recommended that FAO should:
- work to encourage and promote more coherent management approaches among RFBs, where possible, and approach with caution the creation of new bodies. In this respect, it suggested that FAO could encourage the convening of ad hoc consultations and working parties to address certain emerging issues as a mid-way alternative to the creation of new and/or subsidiary bodies;
- continue their systematic analysis of FAO RFBs concerning institutional and financial arrangements; strategies used to implement decisions and recommendations; and measures taken to address current international issues raised by both FAO and non-FAO bodies;
- convene a special meeting of managers and secretaries of FAO and non-FAO bodies, to identify and address common problems and constraints, and develop strategies and mechanisms to address constraints, share experiences and lessons learned, and improve the effectiveness of the bodies8.
5. FAO has taken steps to address the first two of the above recommendations. The present paper provides background information to permit a preliminary consideration of the third recommendation by participants at the Meeting of FAO and non-FAO RFBs.
II. CATEGORIZATION OF MAIN ISSUES
6. A series of issues constrain the efficient operation of RFBs. The main issues can be grouped into four categories and relate to: (A) expectations of the international community with regard to the role of international RFBs in the conservation and management of world fisheries, (B) mandate and functions, (C) structure, and (D) budgetary levels and financing of the bodies.
A. Expectations of the international community
7. The outcome of recent global conferences9 and the deliberations of COFI have impacted on fishery governance requirements, and on the perception of the international community regarding world fisheries resources and their sustainable management and utilization. These conferences have also contributed to the elaboration and adoption of three recent international instruments: the Agreement to Promote Compliance with International Conservation and Management Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas (the Compliance Agreement), adopted in 1993 by the FAO Conference, 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), adopted in 1995, and the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. Each of these instruments, and in particular the latter two, re-emphasize the crucial role that RFBs and civil society organizations are expected to play in good global fishery governance.10
8. The Compliance Agreement seeks to encourage countries to take effective action, consistent with international law, and to deter the reflagging of vessels by their nationals as a means of avoiding compliance with applicable conservation and management rules for fishing activities on the high seas. With respect to the role of RFBs, the preamble to the Compliance Agreement calls upon States which do not participate in global, regional or sub-regional fishery organizations or arrangements to do so, with a view to achieving compliance with international conservation and management measures. Article V(3) further provides that the parties shall, when and as appropriate, enter into cooperative agreements or arrangements of mutual assistance, on a global, regional, sub-regional or bilateral basis, in order to promote the objectives of the Agreement. Article VI provides for exchange of information to RFBs in paragraphs (4), (10) and (11). Finally, Article VII requires the parties to cooperate on a global, regional, sub-regional or bilateral level, to provide assistance to developing State parties, in order to assist them to fulfill obligations under the Agreement.
9. The UN Fish Stocks Agreement complements and strengthens a number of provisions of the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Agreement seeks to ensure a harmonious development of coherent conservation and management measures for EEZs and the high seas, and thereby alleviate some of the existing tensions and conflicts. However, the effective implementation of this instrument would depend on political will and a high degree of cooperation between coastal States and high seas fishing nations and fishing entities on a range of technical issues. The Agreement provides that where a competent RFB exists, States should either become members of the body, or they should agree to apply the conservation and management measures established by such organizations. This provision is stringently reinforced by Article 8(4), which provides that only those States which are members of such a RFB, or which agree to apply the relevant RFBs conservation and management measures, shall have access to the fishery resources to which these measures apply. Article 9 and 10 provide for the establishment and functions of RFBs. Article 11 examines the nature and extent of participatory rights for new members, and Article 12 requires transparency in the activities of RFBs. Articles 18-23 address the subjects of monitoring, control and surveillance by flag States providing for international, regional and sub-regional cooperation in enforcement. Finally, Article 13 promotes the strengthening of existing organizations and arrangements.
10. The Code is a voluntary, broad and comprehensive instrument that sets out principles and standards for the conservation and management of all fisheries and aquaculture including processing and trade in fish and fishery products, research and the integration of fisheries and aquaculture into coastal area management. The Code makes numerous references to the role of RFBs in establishing a responsible international fisheries regime. Article 1.2 notes that the Code is global in scope, and directed towards fishing entities that include RFBs. From Article 4.1, such entities are charged with collaborating in the implementation of the Code. Under Article 6.5, RFBs should apply a precautionary approach to the conservation, management and exploitation of living aquatic resources. Article 7 on fisheries management makes numerous references to the role of RFBs in attaining management objectives, providing a management framework and procedures; data gathering and management advice; application of the precautionary approach; describing management measures; and implementation of the Code itself.
11. An important characteristic in the elaboration of these instruments is the active involvement of civil society organizations in the process. Understandably, national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in fisheries approach the issues from different perspectives, i.e. those of fish-workers, industry, development, management and environmental protection. Indeed, Article 12 of the UN Fish Stocks Agreement provides for observer or other rights to representatives of non-governmental organizations. Several RFBs are willing to strengthen cooperation with both civil society organizations and the private sector, but the modalities for such cooperation have not been elaborated in several cases.
12. A number of issues characterize the current world fisheries situation. These include:
- overfishing, over-capacity and overcapitalization of the sector,
- high rate of discarding in some fisheries/areas,
- emergence of environmental values in fishery resource use,
- globalization in almost all aspects of fisheries (in particular trade),
- changes in consumption patterns and perceptions,
- transparency, accountability, partnership and good governance.
These emerging issues and the expectations of the international community are reflected in the three recent international instruments and in global debates on fisheries.
13. The international community further expects RFBs to play a central role in ensuring that the provisions of these instruments are implemented. In this context, and as is evident in paragraphs 9, 10 and 11, the international instruments encourage States to establish RFBs where appropriate, and to strengthen existing bodies in order to improve their effectiveness in establishing and implementing conservation and management measures. The instruments and, in particular, the UN Fish Stocks Agreement, gives an important role to RFBs in the compliance and enforcement system of the Agreement. It directs them to be responsible for adopting more detailed conservation and management measures which must take into account certain fundamental factors. It also encourages them to promote an integrated, ecosystem-wide conservation and management scheme and to apply the precautionary approach in all aspects of its work. Furthermore, it gives a central role to RFBs in the sharing of data and information collected by States.
B. Issues related to the mandate and/or functions of the body
14. The mandates of RFBs may be to: (i) provide advice (i.e., advisory functions), and/or (ii) take decisions concerning the conservation, sustainable management and use of one or more species, as well as the affiliated aspects of fisheries in a defined region or sub-region11 (i.e., regulatory functions).
(i) Advisory functions
15. The need for sound scientific advice and for its effective communication to the policy makers of the members of RFBs is, of course, common to all bodies. The advisory function of a RFB is implemented through a series of inter-sessional activities during which scientific information and data concerning the resource and other aspects of the fishery are collected, analysed and discussed, and the main conclusions and recommendations are distilled by experts for action by their respective competent authorities. The three most common methods used by RFBs to collect scientific information are:
- through an external scientific body such as the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), which undertakes this task for the International Baltic Sea Fishery Commission (IBSFC), the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO), and the Northeast Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC);
- through an internal scientific body, established under the RFB's constituting agreement, usually consisting of experts from members of the body, as in the case of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) and the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT); or
- through ad hoc working groups or technical consultations, as with most FAO bodies.
16. Advice should ideally be formulated so that all the implications (scientific, technological, legal, economic, etc.) are clearly identified and analysed. In order to do this, RFBs, inter alia, rely on the results of scientific research undertaken by their members and/or by the mechanisms through which data are compiled and analysed, and formulate conservation and management measures (such as the total allowable catch and allocation of quotas). Personal relations and experiences, as well as full and free discussion between scientists and decision-makers, usually go a long way to enhancing the credibility of advice.
17. Scientific research: As fishing pressure on stocks increases so, also, does the complexity of regulatory measures (e.g. towards ecosystem management) and the stresses on the scientific advisory system on which those measures are based. In almost all cases, research is undertaken by members, and the bodies limit themselves to promoting, coordinating or planning national research inputs to the regional mechanism. In some situations, RFBs undertake investigations themselves with their own staff
18. Compilation and analysis of data: Efficient fishery management requires access to a wide range of information, including those of a socio-economic nature. Members of a RFB have an obligation to provide accurate and complete information on a timely basis; but it is the responsibility of the body to check on its accuracy and to compile and publish it with minimal delay. Many RFBs continue to be impaired by the lack of adequate data and this situation is being increasingly recognized. Despite better appreciation of the value of good statistics, the actual improvement in statistics barely keeps pace with the increased demands in relation to more complex management approaches. Most RFBs have accumulated a wealth of knowledge of the stocks in the regions covered by their agreements through working groups set up for such purposes, but updating remains a problem in the developing world. Failure in the supply of data by members, under-reporting or gaps in landings data, inadequacy of effort and capacity data, inadequacy of current models, lack of socio-economic data are among the reasons why scientific advice may fall short of what is needed in a particular situation.
19. Formulation of conservation and management measures: One of the main tasks undertaken by RFBs is the formulation of conservation and management measures. Two series of problems are related to this task. The first one relates to the scope and nature of conservation measures and to the multiplicity of factors of a political, scientific, legal and economic nature involved in their formulation. Some of the complexities will be discussed below. The second relate to the decision-making process and will be discussed in paragraphs 26-34.
20. Determination of total allowable catch (TAC) and allocation of quotas is a major aspect of management in many RFBs. The extent to which RFBs are involved in the determination of total allowable catch (TAC), taking into account not only biological but also social and economic factors, varies and depends on the wishes of the members of the bodies. Access controls of any form, such as licence limits, territorial use rights in fisheries (TURFs) or individual transferable quotas (ITQs), create certain forms of property rights and their introduction often causes a re-distribution of wealth. As a consequence, these are essentially political decisions which many RFBs have difficulty in addressing and which, often, do not even fall within their mandate.
21. Precautionary approach: Sustainable productive fisheries require management approaches which ensure a high probability of stocks being able to replenish themselves under any condition. Because of the inherent uncertainty in the aquatic environment and in human behaviour, this can only be achieved by taking a precautionary approach12.
22. The precautionary approach gained prominence as a result of the Rio Declaration and Agenda 21, formulated at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration states that "in order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation".
23. The precautionary approach is considered important in fisheries to the extent that it is included in the Code of Conduct and the UN Fish Stocks Agreement. The precautionary approach has a number of implications in the activities of RFBs. Some of them are the following:
- better data is needed,
- uncertainty should be systematically investigated,
- outputs should be identified corresponding to objectives,
- target and limit reference points should be established,
- methods used for assessment need to be revised,
- robustness of management regime to (a) overfishing and (b) environmental change should be assessed,
- contingency plans should be developed, etc.
24. The precautionary approach would be relevant to RFBs in several aspects of their work. Most of the current RFBs were established before the formulation of the precautionary approach, but several of them have started to discuss the implementation of the principle. These bodies include ICES, NASCO, IBSFC, the North Atlantic Fishery Organization (NAFO)13, and the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). The GFCM Agreement was amended in 1997 to apply this approach to its conservation and management decisions.
25. Proper or efficient fishery management requires that RFBs find effective means to restrict fishing mortality within safe biological limits. However, the necessary information to calculate the required reference points in a precautionary way is not often available. In addition, there is a tendency in RFBs to reach decision by consensus and/or to exploit fisheries at the higher risk end of the range recommended by scientists. Furthermore, RFBs are required to acknowledge and assess uncertainty in the understanding of the state of the stocks and forecast the effect on future outcomes of management actions. Briefly, less knowledge, more cautious the approach.
(ii) Regulatory functions
26. The regulatory functions of RFBs relate to the decision-making process and the implementation of such decisions, as well as the settlement of disputes.
27. Decision-making: Fisheries management decision-making is not simply a technical process but involves the taking of decisions that are essentially political with a bearing on national sovereignty, such as the allocation of resources and fishing effort, or the enforcement of regulations. Others have international implications such as monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) of transboundary stocks or those stocks which are adjacent to national jurisdictions. There has also been an increase in the number of parameters to be included in fishery management decisions, with an increased emphasis on socio-economic aspects of fisheries, complicating the decision-making process. The relative importance of issues that members are willing to address, and the impact on them, may differ significantly because of differences in situations (including economic situations) and circumstances. The tendency of many RFBs to take decisions by consensus lead to decisions on minimum-common denominator and the "too little, too late" syndrome stressed by many analysts in the last two decades. All these constitute impediments to the regulatory function of RFBs and to effective fishery management. An important ingredient for appropriate decision-making is to involve policy-makers in the process and not merely the technicians in fisheries departments.
28. Implementation of decisions: Some RFBs are empowered to make binding decisions, while others can only produce recommendations. In between these two extremes, it is sometimes provided that recommendations will become binding after a given time if members do not object to them. However, even when members have taken action to implement decisions and recommendations, enforcement remains a serious problem for many RFBs (particularly in the high seas) and it is increasingly apparent that adopting recommendations is only a partial solution to the problem of effective management of fisheries. Some RFBs operate independent MCS systems. Such schemes are likely to be effective and build the confidence of those involved in fishing if they are perceived as fair and equitably enforced.
29. Settlement of disputes: The agreements of non-FAO RFBs and the bodies established under Article XIV of the FAO Constitution usually contain provisions for the settlement of disputes. Common property resources have often been the source of tensions and conflicts, within States, between neighboring States and also between coastal and distant-water fishing nations. In the last decades, a number of international instruments were adopted which have as one of their objectives the avoidance and resolution of conflicts in the sector.
30. Although these instruments exist, it is common knowledge that conservation and management measures of RFBs have been undermined by fishing vessels of members and non-members of the body which do not comply, for example, with the established fishing quotas and other measures.
31. The settlement of disputes is therefore one of the important tasks of RFBs. The agreements establishing RFBs usually provide for their own institutional arrangements and procedures that reduce conflicts and facilitate the resolution of disputes at local level when they arise, using dispute resolution procedures (such as arbitration, mediation, judicial settlement, etc). These procedures tend to engage the disputants actively in seeking a result acceptable to all the parties.
32. The requirements that contribute to a successful conflict resolution process, include:
- freedom of the disputants to participate in or withdraw from the process,
- opportunity for mutual gain,
- active participation of the interested parties,
- identification of the interest of the disputants,
- neutral development of possible solutions and options,
- capability of the parties to enter into and carry out agreement.
These requirements are difficult to meet simultaneously in disputes related to fisheries. Several of them could be met over time if there is the political will on the part of the disputants and if they are convinced of the impartiality of the negotiator and the confidentiality of the process. The presence of effective MCS systems do help to limit some of the disputes, but the situation is complicated when the other disputant is not a member of the RFB concerned.
C. Issues related to the structure of the bodies
33. The term "structure" is used here to describe the various components of a RFB in the context of the definition provided in footnote 1. This would include, but is not limited to, the geographical area of competence and species covered, membership, and subsidiary bodies.
34. Geographical area of competence and species covered: In most large water bodies there is at least one regional RFB. For those large water bodies where there are no RFBs, discussions are on-going for the establishment of such RFBs, for example the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, the South-East Atlantic Ocean, and the Caspian Sea. FAO is providing technical inputs to the current initiatives in the Western and Central Pacific and the South-East Atlantic. With respect to the Caspian Sea, negotiations among littoral countries have been in train since 1993 after two countries began initial negotiations at FAO Headquarters. The International Whaling Commission (IWC) is the only body which, under the terms of the convention establishing it, is concerned with the conservation and management of a resource in all oceans where the resource occurs. In all other cases, the geographical area under the purview of individual RFBs is limited.
35. Some bodies deal mainly with a single group of species. This is the case with marine mamals handled by IWC and the tuna bodies. Most bodies deal with all or most of the commercial species in the area covered by the agreement establishing the body. A primary policy direction of contemporary importance that has been adopted recently in terms of area covered and species of interest to RFBs, is ecosystem management. As illustrated by the UN Fish Stocks Agreement, among other things, there is the requirement that States share data concerning the capture of non-target species and that States assess the impact of fishing on non-target and associated or dependent species and their environment. The ecosystem approach is often considered as an element of the precautionary approach (paragraphs 22-25). It will be necessary to assess to what extent the adoption of the ecosystem approach to fisheries management could affect the membership composition and functions of existing bodies. Already, one could suggest that the adoption of the precautionary approach and the ecosystem management approach strengthen the call for greater collaboration among RFBs with regard to information flows and exchanges.
36. Membership: The conditions for membership vary among RFBs and this could also affect the performance of the bodies. Several agreements or conventions provide that under certain conditions membership of the RFB is open to States other than the coastal States in the geographical area of competence or to States other than the original members. In other instances, the membership is restrictive. For several FAO bodies, membership is open to all Members and Associate Members of the Organization with interests in the fisheries of the region concerned.
37. Almost all conventions or agreements establishing RFBs provide for the participation of observers. While some bodies have accepted the participation of civil society organizations, the participation of such organizations as observers to the sessions of some bodies remains an unresolved issue. Recently, the European Community (EC) has opted to become member of some bodies, with mixed competence with its member countries on certain issues, in keeping with the Common Fishery Policy of EC. It is possible that in the future, other economic integration organizations would apply to become members of some RFBs. It might be necessary to hypothesize what changes, if any, such developments could have on the performance of the bodies concerned.
38. It happens sometimes that when a body is established not all potential members join immediately. In some cases some potential members wish in a first phase to familiarize themselves with the workings and, in some cases, with the conservation and management problems involved, and would attend a few meetings in an observer capacity before deciding to apply for full membership. Most conventions or agreements establishing RFBs also contain provisions to enable members to withdraw.
39. Participation: Under existing rules of international law, membership in any RFB, with the related acceptance of all rights and duties, is entirely voluntary. In other words, outsiders cannot be compelled to become members or to abide by the rules and regulatory measures as defined by a RFB. The status of fisheries of member countries varies from one extreme to another, resulting also in widely different attitudes to problems. The conditions for membership, the composition of its members, etc., could impact on the degree of participation and collaboration of the members, their ability to contribute resources to the activities of the body, etc., and hence the performance of the body concerned.
40. The work of a RFB may also be jeopardized by the lack of participation of non-coastal fishing countries (usually distant water fishing nations). Consequently, special efforts are usually made to secure their cooperation and participation. Non-member countries may be invited to participate in an observer capacity. In practice, when these countries avail themselves of the opportunity, this goes some way towards ensuring the cooperation of all countries concerned.
41. Subsidiary bodies: A number of RFBs have or may establish subsidiary bodies that could be thematic (research, development, management, etc.) or sub-regional as in the case of some FAO RFBs. The performance of the subsidiary body and by inference that of the parent body could be affected by the composition of the membership, the degree to which all participants must or should reflect a national stance, the clarity of the terms of reference of the organ, the powers entrusted to their chairperson, the working language(s) of the organ and the degree to which all or the majority of members can express their views fluently in the working language(s), and the manner through which recommendations are reached (consensus, by vote, etc). As most of the important scientific work of many bodies is undertaken by subsidiary bodies or ad hoc working groups, care should be exercised in the setting up of these bodies.
D. Budgetary levels and financing
42. Lack of technical and financial resources has prevented many RFBs from implementing recommendations and follow-up to recommendations. In some cases it has negatively affected the performance of bodies as planned activities could not be undertaken.
43. The financial implications of membership in RFBs are two-fold:
- there are the expenses relating to the attendance of representatives, experts and advisers of members at meetings of the body concerned and its subsidiary organs;
- joint expenses required to cover the operation costs and also in a few cases the cost of independent research, MCS, enforcement of management decisions by the body itself.
The first type of expenses are usually borne by the members individually. Joint expenses are assessed among members in different ways. Here there are significant differences between FAO and non-FAO bodies. For FAO bodies, except IOTC, the expenses for activities are almost entirely provided by FAO Regular Programme budget. Some activities are also undertaken with extra-budgetary resources, or cooperative projects in which a number of countries coordinate their resources. Extra-budgetary support to FAO bodies has largely been terminated during the 1980s, affecting the performance of these bodies.
44. The second type of funding is common to non-FAO bodies. Various methods have been used to apportion joint expenses. The simplest method is equal sharing. It is easy to implement when the level of development of members is more or less the same. In other cases, the members contribute to the joint expenses or what is commonly called the autonomous budget in accordance with a scheme and scale of contribution adopted by the body. The parameters that usually enter into the equation include a basic fee that is unrelated to either national wealth or fish production, a charge that reflects the members national wealth, as well as a charge for fish production. In bodies with members of different economic strengths, the values given to the different parameters can be weighted to give certain advantages to the less developed members, and hence encourage their participation in the activities of the body. The absence of trade data on the value of certain species could limit the reliability of information used to calculate members contribution to the bodies budget, where this is a factor in the equation.
45. It should be pointed out that when a RFB has gone through its formative stage, as almost all FAO bodies have, it may need to become more dependent on the commitment and contributions of its members. In order to give its members effective control on the mechanism and responsibility for its progress, it may be essential for the body to have a responsible secretariat selected and financially largely supported by the members. This remains a major issue for most FAO bodies.
III. SUGGESTED ACTION BY THE MEETING
46. The Meeting is invited to review the issues raised, and further to:
- identify ways and means for RFBs to promote better implementation of international instruments and initiatives,
- discuss better ways to promote the precautionary approach,
- identify better mechanisms for the exchange and flow of information among RFBs and between RFBs and FAO on the state of resources, management schemes, success and failure,
- identify needs for close collaboration between RFBs on a geographic or species basis and the means/mechanisms to improve such collaboration,
- consider mechanisms for the coordination of the activities of RFBs.
A MULTIFACETED APPROACH TO FISHERY STATUS AND TRENDS REPORTING
1. As Gulland14 pointed out, regional and global organizations have been influential in the success or failure of many fisheries, and fishery problems have been more prominent in international affairs than the relatively modest share of fisheries in most national economies would suggest. He identified the most urgent requirement for international collaboration as the need for conservation and management of stocks harvested by several countries, but also stressed that the technical quality of advice for management can benefit from international review. This is the reason why Iceland, for example, seeks advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) for some of the stocks confined to its national juristiction.
2. There are increasing demands for objective, unbiased, peer reviewed and transparent information on the status and trends of fisheries and fishery resources. Driving forces behind such demands include increasing adoption of the precautionary approach to fisheries management as embodied in the UN Fish Stocks Agreement15 and the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, as well as eco-labelling issues.
3. In 1979, a working party of the FAO Advisory Committee on Marine Resources Research (ACMRR)16 identified a number of distinct steps necessary for the effective management of a fishery which still hold true today:
- Setting of objectives
- Definition of boundaries
- Collection of data
- Transformation of data into information
- Formulation of action
- Execution of policies
This paper addresses steps 3 and 4, particularly in the international context.
4. It is important to stress at the outset that the fishery status and trends reporting referred to throughout this paper concerns the cooperative collation at the global level of national and regional data, ensuring that they conform to international norms and standards, and the production of global assessments of the state of world fisheries based on these. It definitely does not include a reappraisal of the national and regional stock assessments. Therefore the global reporting referred to here does not replicate the work of national and regional institutions, but rather complements it by providing a global overview.
II. APPROACH SUGGESTED BY ACFR
5. The First Session of the FAO Advisory Committee on Fisheries Research (ACFR, Rome, 25-28 November 1997) identified research topics that need to be emphasized in the future in order to fill critical scientific gaps. One such area was fishery status and trends reporting. ACFR recognized that there is a "high demand for such information from policy makers, environmentalists who are increasingly concerned about fisheries, and the public". However, the Committee believed that current fishery status and trends reporting by FAO relied too heavily on traditional catch and trade statistics, whereas "there is a critical need for data relevant to fleet capacity, participation in fisheries, economic performance and distribution". Another critical element of the identified research need concerning statistics and status and trends is for the "design of quality criteria and quality assurance protocols". As planning for a Living Marine Resources module of the Global Ocean Observing System gathers momentum, ACFR advised that it was particularly important that FAO prepare itself with a scientifically based plan for improving data collection and assessments of status and trends of fisheries using a multifaceted approach which could benefit from more formal processes to involve regional fishery bodies (both FAO and non-FAO) and individual experts. ACFR stated that a "multifaceted aapproach is needed including:
- An evaluation of the types of data and assessments that are needed by researchers and policy makers;
- Development of data collection mechanisms and design of a data management system;
- Establish national commitment to provide data; and
- Make arrangement for involvement of regional fishery bodies, and non-FAO experts in a consensus seeking process for conducting assessments of status and trends."
6. As a mechanism to provide leadership on this, ACFR further proposed as a priority the establishment by FAO of a Working Party on Status and Trends of Fisheries, the scope of which "should include:
- An evaluation of data needs for status and trends reporting, and for other research needs, including data on fleet capacity, participation in fisheries, economic performance and distribution.
- Consideration of data collection mechanisms and design of data management systems.
- Proposals for arrangements for involvement of regional bodies, and non-FAO experts in a consensus seeking process for conducting assessments of status and trends.
- Consideration of the relationship between FAO data collection and assessments of trends, and the Living Marine Resources module of the Global Ocean Observing System."
7. The Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) was called for by the Second World Climate Conference in 1990 and UNCED in 1992 to support sustainable development of the seas and oceans and to provide the oceanographic data needed by the Global Climate Observing System. It was initiated by the IOC in 1991 and subsequently gained additional sponsors. GOOS will undertake long-term, multi-disciplinary monitoring of the seas and oceans as a basis for (a) providing ocean data for reliable assessments and predictions of the present and future states of marine environments in support of their health and sustainable use, and (b) contributing to the prediction of climate change and variability. One of the five component modules of GOOS is that on Living Marine Resources (LMR) which will deal with harvesting and conservation of living resources of the oceans and coastal seas. It is intended that LMR-GOOS will provide a framework and specification for ‘an adequate package of observations and research to understand and forecast major changes in the abundance and/or production of critical living marine resources over time scales of years to decades and beyond arising from changes in the carrying capacity and/or health of the ocean’.
8. A meeting of the LMR-GOOS Panel (Paris, 17-20 March 1998) directed the following request to FAO:
"A number of national and regional bodies collect and analyze fishery statistics and make fishery assessments. An aggregation of these analyses would be invaluable in assessing population changes in the upper trophic levels of marine ecosystems. The panel therefore requests FAO, the global centre for fishery statistics, to identify on a global scale the existing fishery analyses that could contribute to the desired meta assessment and advise on how it could best be organized and carried out."
III. RESPONSIBILITIES OF STATES AND REGIONAL AND GLOBAL FISHERIES ORGANIZATIONS
9. Articles 61 and 119 of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982 UN Convention) state that information and data relevant to the conservation of fish stocks in EEZs and on the high seas shall be contributed and exchanged on a regular basis through competent international organizations, whether subregional, regional or global, by all States concerned.
10.The Agenda 21 Programme of Action for Sustainable Development as agreed by the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development declares that States, with the support of international organizations, whether subregional, regional or global, should cooperate to promote enhanced collection of data necessary for the conservation and sustainable use of living marine resources, exchange of data and information for fisheries assessment, development and sharing of analytical and predictive tools and monitoring and assessment programmes.
11.The 1993 FAO Compliance Agreement17 requires Parties to exchange information on vessels authorised by them to fish on the high seas, and obliges FAO to facilitate this information exchange. FAO has developed a prototype database, the High Seas Vessels Authorisation Record (HSVAR), for this purpose. So far two States (Canada and the USA) have provided such vessel authorisation data and over 600 vessel records are in the database.
12.The 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement specifies clearly the roles and responsibilities for regional fisheries agencies and flag States in the collection and exchange of data necessary to meet stock assessment requirements and support management objectives for straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks. Annex I of the Agreement, titled Standard Requirements for the Collection and Sharing of Data, provides an important specification of the minimum data requirements for the conservation of fish stocks. Article 48 of the Agreement specifies that the Annexes to the Agreement may be revised from time to time by States Parties based on scientific and technical considerations, and so these requirements can be amended as the need arises. Article 7 of the UN Fish Stocks Agreement contains specific provisions concerning data exchange:
"1. Data collected by flag States must be shared with other flag States and relevant coastal States through appropriate subregional and regional fisheries management organizations or arrangements. Such organizations or arrangements shall compile data and make them available in a timely manner and in agreed format to all interested States under the terms and conditions established by that organization or arrangement, while maintaining confidentiality of non-aggregated data, and should, to the extent feasible, develop database systems which provide efficient access to data.
2. At the global level, collection and dissemination of data should be effected through the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Where a subregional or regional organization fisheries management organization or arrangement does not exist, that organization may also do the same at the subregional or regional level by arrangement with the States concerned."
13. The 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries stresses the essential need for reliable data as a basis for effective fishery management and policy making. Paragraphs 7.4.1 - 7.4.7 deal with data gathering and management advice and the responsibilities of States and subregional or regional fisheries management organisations in relation to these. Paragraph 4.1 states that FAO will monitor the application and implementation of the Code and its effects on fisheries and that all States and relevant international organisations, whether governmental or non-governmental should actively cooperate with FAO in this.
14. As part of its programme of promoting implementation of the Code, FAO has proposed to potential donor countries an Interregional Programme of Assistance to Developing Countries. One sub-programme is concerned with Upgrading Capabilities for Reporting on Fishery Statistics and it comprises three activities:
- Design of a generic catch and effort data collection and reporting system for use by distant water fishing nations and coastal States fishing straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks.
- Bringing existing statistical systems into conformity with the agreed system through a series of workshops conducted with or by regional fisheries bodies.
- Establish a reporting system that will allow rapid transfer of data between countries, regional fisheries bodies and FAO.
15. Donor funding is being sought for the programme and has already been secured for some components. Also, the FAO Fisheries Department has been requested to report to COFI and to the United Nations General Assembly on the implementation of the Code, and feedback from regional fisheries organizations will be an important component of this.
16. FAO reports regularly to the UN General Assembly on developments in fisheries management worldwide, and particularly with some specific issues such as large scale pelagic driftnetting. Although these reports relate mainly to compliance with international agreements such as the UN Fish Stocks Agreement, they also deal with implementation of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. A more comprehensive global appraisal of the status and trends of fisheries would provide a sounder basis upon which to base the reports to the UNGA.
17. In addition to the responsibilities of States and regional fishery organizations in relation to the collection and exchange of data and information as specified in these international agreements and initiatives, States often have obligations to provide fishery data and information to organizations to which they belong. For example, Article XI.2 of the FAO Constitution obliges Member Nations to "communicate regularly to the Director-General statistical, technical and other information published or otherwise issued by, or readily available to the government" and that the "Director-General shall indicate from time to time the nature of the information which would be most useful to the Organization and the form in which this information might be supplied". Most regional fishery organizations have similar requirements for their members.
18. It is clear that the obligations of States and international fishery organizations in relation to the collection and exchange of fishery data and information have been clearly stated in numerous international agreements and initiatives. In addition, the UN Fish Stocks Agreement and the Code of Conduct embrace the Precautionary Approach which requires that fishery managers must be cautious when data are lacking or uncertain, potentially providing a powerful incentive for the collection and reporting of reliable data.
IV. COORDINATION OF FISHERY STATISTICS COLLATION, PROCESSING, EXCHANGE AND DISSEMINATION
19. The Coordinating Working Party on Fishery Statistics (CWP) comprises representatives of inter-governmental organizations which have a competence in fishery statistics. FAO provides the Secretariat. CWP has as its purpose to (a) keep under continuous review the requirements for fishery statistics for research, policy-making and management, (b) agree on standard concepts, definitions, classifications and methodologies for the collection and collation of fishery statistics, and (c) make proposals for the coordination and streamlining of statistical activities amongst relevant intergovernmental organizations.
20. The CWP, supported by the participating organizations, has served since 1960 as the premier international and inter-organization forum for recommending common definitions, classifications and standards for the collection of fishery statistics. It has developed common procedures for statistics collection which have streamlined the collation process and reduced the burden on national fishery statistical offices. It has provided technical advice on fishery statistical matters to participating organizations and has facilitated the preparation of methodological and reference documents. In the process it has shaped the statistical programmes of all participating organizations to some extent, and those of FAO in particular, while leaving organizations complete autonomy in their areas of responsibility. By integrating and coordinating the statistical programmes among organizations, the CWP made possible the standardization and streamlining of reporting through procedures and concepts which have served as models throughout the world.
21. The CWP was reconstituted in 1995 so as to allow it to better respond to the increasing demands for reliable fishery statistics such as those resulting from the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement, the 1993 Compliance Agreement and the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.
22. One example of the influence of the CWP was in having the specifications of fishery data requirements contained in Annex 1 of the UN Fish Stocks Agreement form an integral and binding part of the Agreement, the first time such detailed data requirements had been specified in an international agreement. According to Doulman18, there was considerable discussion at the UN Conference as to what standing the annexes of the draft Agreement should have, with some delegations arguing that they should not be binding. Referring to the CWP text submitted to the Conference, Doulman states "This strong and unambiguous support from the world’s major fishery bodies indicated clearly the need for the specification of minimum standards in the draft Agreement". It was agreed finally that Annexes 1 and 2 would be an integral part of the Agreement, and thus be binding. Article 48 of the Agreement specifies that the Annexes to the Agreement may be revised from time to time by States Parties based on scientific and technical considerations such as those in the CWP.
23. The participating organizations of the CWP are:
- Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR);
- Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT);
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), also on behalf of FAO regional fishery bodies;
- International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT);
- International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES);
- International Whaling Commission (IWC);
- North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO);
- Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO);
- Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD);
- Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC);
- Statistical Office of the European Communities (Eurostat).
24. A summary of the data collated and held by some regional fishery organizations is provided in Annex 1.
25. There is, therefore, in the CWP an operational inter-agency mechanism in place for coordination of fishery statistical programmes and activities and the exchange of data which should be utilised in support of any enhanced fishery status and trends reporting undertaken cooperatively by FAO, regional fishery organizations and other institutions such as proposed by ACFR. Indeed the provisional agenda for the Eighteenth Session of CWP during 6-9 July 1999 contains an item on exchange and dissemination of information and statistics by CWP’s participating organizations, including data management and dissemination policies sharing of data through possible live linkages amongst the organizations’ databases. That CWP Session will be immediately preceded by a working group meeting which will consider data requirements in relation application of the precautionary approach in tuna management in preparation foe an Expert Consultation which will take place in 2000.
V. FISHERY STATUS REPORTING BY REGIONAL AND GLOBAL FISHERY ORGANIZATIONS
26. All regional fishery organizations undertake reviews, in one form or another, of the fisheries or fishery resources which fall within their competence. All provide some descriptions of the fisheries and their changes, often in textual form (e.g. with descriptions of fleets, fishing gears and operations) but also in terms of time series of catches of various species and effort (or catch per unit effort) by fleet or gear, all by statistical area. In some cases these are supplemented with data on by-catches of non-target species (including birds, turtles and mammals) and/or discarded catches. In cases where catch quota management is in operation, reports often show both officially-reported landings as well as the best estimates of landings (i.e. including misreported or non-reported landings). In addition, recommended total allowable catches (TACs) for previous years as well as the TACs actually agreed are sometimes shown (e.g. ICES) and these can be useful in identifying the degree to which the objectives are met and, in some cases, the appropriateness of the management advice itself. IATTC also describes interactions between fisheries. Some fishery status reports also describe the oceanographic environment (e.g. NAFO, IATTC and CCAMLR) in which the fishery takes place. In addition, CCAMLR incorporates ecosystem considerations.
27. Apart from descriptions of the fisheries, status reports from several regional organizations describe the results of research (e.g. fish tagging exercises), experimental surveys of resource biomass and its age/size structure (e.g. fishing surveys, acoustic surveys), routing biological monitoring of catches for such attributes as species composition, length, weight, sex and maturity distributions, changes in which often exert a major influence on the status of stocks.
28. For stocks for which assessments are undertaken, regional fishery organizations often report these in a systematic way, typically showing trends in landings, recruitment of young fish to the fishery, fishing mortality and stock biomass. These four indicators are generally also shown for any short term forecasts which are provided for different assumptions as well as for any long term forecasts or steady state analyses (e.g. yield per recruit analysis or surplus production models) which can be useful for developing management strategies. It is common practice in these cases to assess the state of the resource and level of exploitation in relation to selected target and limit reference points. In the most sophisticated analyses, indications of uncertainty and risk associated with various scenarios are also given.
29. Some status reports also include firm management advice and even agreed management measures, not only in relation to controlling overall fishing mortality but also for technical measures for other purposes (e.g. protection of juveniles). Finally and importantly, status reports usually contain recommendations on how fishery data need to be improved and on what additional research needs to be undertaken.
30. FAO draws heavily on the status reports of regional fishery organizations, as well as those of national institutions and peer-reviewed publications, in order to provide global reviews which are intended to describe trends, issues and the general status of fisheries in all regions of the world, rather than design and implement specific management measures which is the purpose of regional fishery organizations and national authorities. FAO’s reviews are particularly important in alerting regional fishery organizations, national policy makers and advisors, industry, NGOs and the public to the global fishery situation and global issues which can and do have effects at the regional and national levels. For example, excess fishing capacity is a global issue for which surplus capacity in one region can easily be exported to cause problems in another. Policy makers and fishery managers must be kept well informed and up to date on such issues. The mandate of FAO to "collect, analyse, interpret and disseminate information" is enshrined in Article I of its Constitution. FAO has a long experience in collecting, processing and interpreting data and information from national statistical offices, regional fishery bodies, centres of excellence, publications and industry and its dissemination. Data are processed by technical divisions, where they are analysed and interpreted for redistribution through reports, yearbooks, diskettes, CD-ROMs and on-line data bases as well as through the Internet. FAO also publishes every two years a World Review of the State of Fishery Resources (marine, inland, and aquaculture) as well as a review of the State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA). These publications will soon be complemented by the fisheries component of the FAO Digital Atlas for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. These outputs are discussed and reviewed in a general way by the FAO Committee on Fisheries which meets every two years and is the main and only specific forum for the discussion of world fishery issues.
31. Ideally such reviews should be based on the most up-to-date assessments and utilise all the information potentially available. However, as assessments are not always published in a timely fashion and do not cover all types of resources everywhere, the task is daunting. The FAO review of the state of marine resources could certainly be improved, but FAO’s staff resources are very limited and even at present the preparation of the trends and status reviews draws heavily on expertise outside FAO. A more comprehensive review based on inputs from more information sources and a more extensive peer review mechanism, as ACFR proposes, can only be achieved through closer partnerships between FAO, regional fishery organizations, national institutions and centres of excellence. A further essential requirement would be a formal commitment by countries to provide more complete and more timely data and information. Regional fishery oganization partners and national partners would need to be convinced of the benefits to them of any such partnership and assured that their position as data owners would be solidly protected with guarantees that they would have complete control over their information, including ensuring an appropriate degree of confidentiality where necessary.
32. The benefits to the regional and national partners would be that their information would:
- Help countries fulfil their obligations to international agreements;
- Improve transparency at the regional and global levels;
- Improve monitoring of shared, straddling and highly migratory stocks;
- Facilitate monitoring of implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries;
- Demonstrate government and regional commitment to responsible fisheries;
- Allow comparisons of approaches taken by different countries or regions, including comparison of assessment and management approaches and results; and
- Facilitate coordination amongst regional fishery bodies (e.g. for tuna in the Pacific).
33. A formal partnership agreement would probably be required for this to be successful. FAO already has experience of partnerships among organizations and institutions at all of these levels. One such example is the Aquatic Sciences and Fishery Abstracts (ASFA) Partnership Agreement which successfully involves partners in the maintenance and development of the premier bibliographic database for fisheries and aquatic sciences. The ASFA Partnership currently comprises three UN agencies (FAO, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (UNDOALAS), four international organizations (International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management (ICLARM), ICES, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and Pacific Islands Marine Resources Information System (PIMRIS)), 24 national input centres and a private sector publisher (Cambridge Scientific Abstracts).
VI. POSSIBLE PARTNERSHIP TOWARDS A GLOBAL, COOPERATIVE MECHANISM FOR INFORMATION EXCHANGE AND DISSEMINATION
34. The international legal framework of fisheries has been substantially improved by the entry into force of the 1982 UN Convention, as well as by UNCED and its Agenda 21, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN Agreement on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, etc. However, the web of intersecting provisions they contain substantially complicates their simultaneous implementation and greatly increases the need for better, more integrated and more accessible information. The present context is characterised by:
- a multiplication of instruments and institutions addressing fishery resources;
- globalisation of concerns regarding their conservation and sustainable use;
- the importance of the social, economic and ecological stakes involved; and
- the multiplication of sources of information potentially accessible by interested parties.
35. Globalization of trade in fish and fishery products as envisaged in the principles, rights and obligations of the WTO Agreement involves further liberalisation through elimination of barriers and distortions such as duties, quotas and non-tariff barriers and opening up of access to resources and markets . The innovations and initiatives of the processing industry, product development and trade promotion will decide the future use of under-utilised species which may rapidly become over-utilized. Substitution of one species by another can quickly impact upon the state of a previously modestly exploited resource. The impact of quality requirements, together with pressures to guarantee regular supplies of raw material for further processing or for high value sales as fresh produce may encourage an even more relentless targeting of specific species or resources.
36. As a consequence of perceived (or real) mismanagement of fisheries production activities and despite some limited potential still available for development and improved contribution to food security, world-wide concern about the state of fishery resources and some of their non-sustainable uses has grown since UNCED, amplified by the new attention given to conservation of biological diversity. This concern has led to questioning the performance of present production and management systems and to a number of proposals for improvements, including the involvement of consumers in the fisheries management process through eco-certification and eco-labelling mechanisms, though there is still much uncertainty about the possible avenues and degree of objectivity of such mechanisms.
37. The lag time involved in the provision of information by all institutions (national, regional and global) has the unfortunate effect that positive changes in fisheries are not reported in a timely fashion and that analyses (particularly by the media and INGOs) tend to be based on out-of-date information. The contrast between the slow speed at which the scientific objective information is collected and distributed and the very high speed at which media-based information spreads, has unfortunate consequences for the image of fisheries and the transition towards better fisheries systems.
38. The risk of misinformation is therefore very high and the need for clear, verifiable information, based on the best scientific evidence available (required by the 1982 UN Convention) on the state of World resources, their environments and exploitation systems has become critical. This is demonstrated by the increasing frequency of requests to FAO for information and by the impact achieved by such information at global, regional and national levels, as reflected in the media and debates in regional organisations, specialised conferences and at the UN General Assembly. In particular, scientifically-based, wholly objective information is required in order to:
- guide governments on their actions towards improved sustainability and food security;
- allow proper monitoring of implementation of the 1982 UN Convention, the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and other relevant international Instruments (e.g. the 1995 Kyoto Declaration and Plan of Action on the Sustainable Contribution of Fisheries to Food Security; and
- provide accurate information to all FAO members, partners, and clients (including the public at large and consumers).
39. The present system of information dissemination by FAO has the advantage of being global, covering resources and fisheries with biological, technological, trade and social and economic information, and providing screened and referenced information, controlled by FAO expert staff. It is in conformity with agreed principles of sustainable use as enshrined in the 1982 UN Convention, the Code of Conduct and other internationally agreed instruments, and aims explicitly at the long-term maintenance of the resources, the ecosystem and the fishing industry. It remains under FAO members’ control through the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) and has a long-term viability as part of the FAO Regular Programme.
40. The present system has, however, a number of shortcomings which need to be addressed if regional and national expectations and future challenges are to be met:
- There is no real-time or even continuous dedicated process of updating of the information (except for statistics), with the risk that the information presented may not always be the best scientific information available. The data acquisition needs to be improved, and this can only be achieved by involving regional and national partners directly in a quasi-real time acquisition and distribution system which could easily be developed using Internet technology.
- The quality of resource assessments is very variable, due to dependence on sources of information which often have very limited resources: As a consequence, the specifications of the information compiled and re-distributed should be recorded and the source clearly indicated, and these specifications should be subjected to peer review.
- Some elements of information collected by FAO and regional fishery organizations which are not widely available and remain on inaccessible files, could be useful if made available provided they are not confidential.
- The information is aggregated at national level and not by water bodies, ecosystems or drainage basins or even stocks, so the geographical entities on which the fisheries and aquaculture are managed and developed have to be specified.
- Various data sets are not entirely digitised (e.g. information on resource distribution) and are not interconnected, impeding total visibility of the information available and interactive use of such information by FAO members, partners and clients.
41. Conventional monitoring of exploitation based on post factum catch and effort data from official sources and subsequent scientific analysis while effectively demonstrating the past pressure on a resource, can be complemented and enhanced by the collection and analyses of data from trade sources and the processing industry. These may give additional insight into unexpected changes in fishing pressure or in orientation and help explain changes in landings or supply/demand relationships. Access to trade related information would permit the monitoring of currently heavily or overexploited species particularly those of high value where conservation measures exist but where confusion as regards origins may distort assessments and management and encourage irregular activities. It will also serve as a tool to monitor the impact of species substitution and increased market acceptance of under-utilised species and so provide valuable early warning indicators and trend analysis which may help to alert planners and resource managers to potential over exploitation.
42. Considering the ongoing efforts and accomplishments of FAO in establishing principles, criteria and indicators of sustainability for responsible fisheries, the main remaining problems relate to the timeliness and quality of information necessary to ensure effective assessment and monitoring of fisheries sustainability and the development of the related indicators. The 1982 UN Convention provides that management decisions should be based on (or take account of) the best scientific evidence available. As legal frameworks have been upgraded and institutional change is ongoing, demand is growing for upgrading of available information as a contribution to transparency and objectivity and as a means of mitigating or avoiding potential misinformation and manipulation.
43. The FIGIS information system the FAO Fisheries Department is developing with extra-budgetary assistance will facilitate partner participation and assist in better meeting present needs. The main objective of the project is to transform the present non-integrated system of databases and information systems into an Integrated World-wide system of information on fishery resources and fishery production systems, increasing the utility and accessibility of the data, using common standards and reference files, accessible through the Internet (and CD-ROMs). This system, which is planned to contribute to GOOS-LMR, will provide a unique source of compiled objective and verifiable global information on fisheries and aquaculture, the resources and their sustainability, aimed at serving the information needs of governments, industry, NGOs, the media, and other potential users (including consumers). More systematic flows of information could be established through FIGIS and its formal network of national and/or regional information centres and subsystems using the Internet as a link and communication system. Particular attention needs to be paid to improving the quality and detail of stock and species status information by developing a more systematic procedure for sharing data and for status and trends reporting which will be conducted in conjunction with regional fishery organisations, national authorities and centres of scientific excellence.
44. There are increasing demands for comprehensive, objective, peer-reviewed information on fisheries trends and status. There are clearly defined responsibilities for States and regional and global fisheries organizations which are in many cases not being adequately met. It is clear that improved status and trends reporting can only come about through a multifaceted approach involving all stakeholders as partners, involving global, regional and national levels and initiatives such as GOOS. This will not be an easy task and obstacles such as the reluctance of some countries to release resource status information which is politically unpopular will have to be overcome. However, successful experiences of other global partnerships indicate that this could be possible. A coordinating mechanism for global and regional fishery statistic programmes can actively contribute to this process. A global fisheries information system which is already under development could provide an appropriate information exchange and dissemination mechanism.
45. What is lacking is a means to assess data and information needs for fishery trends and status reporting, develop the partnerships which will commit partners to sharing information and undertake peer reviews of the status reports based on the comprehensive data set. This issue will be assigned to the Working Party on Status and Trends of Fisheries as proposed by ACFR which FAO plans to convene during 1999.
VIII. ACTION BY THE MEETING
46. The meeting is invited to review the overall approach and suggested mechanisms for improving global reporting on fishery trends and status, particularly in relation to the role of regional fishery bodies and their participation in the proposed ACFR Working Party as a first step. In addition, the meeting is invited to react to the proposal to develop an Internet based cooperative information system on resources and fisheries as part of FIGIS.
ANNEX 1: SUMMARY OF DATA COLLATED AND HELD BY REGIONAL FISHERIES AGENCIES
(Source: Report of the Ad-hoc Consultation on the Role of Regional Fishery Agencies in Relation to High Seas Fishery Statistics, La Jolla, USA, 13-16 December 1993)
IPTP (now IOTC)
Proportion of catch or area which is high seas
19% of area served, 20-30% of catch
Approximately 40% of catch
2% of catch
>25% of catch
30% of catch
25% by catch weight
7% by catch weight
Statistics for high seas compiled separately?
Yes for some (US)
No, 1° x1° approx only
Not yet (coastal states have data)
US purse seine only; can be estimated for certain other fleets
Purposes for which data are used
Assessment,management, incidental mortality, ecosystem studies, calculation of member contributions
Economic evaluation, determination of access fees, management advice
Assessment, management, marine mammal bycatch
Assessment, management advice, evaluation of effects of regulations
Assessment, management advice
Assessment, management advice
Assessment, management advice, regulation
Assessment, management advice
Assessment, management advice (limited use)
Assessment, management advice (limited use)
Availability and resolution of catch-effort data
1° x0.5° by 10-day periods; or 10x10 nmiles and haul-by-haul
See under SPC
1° x1° by month from logbooks (90% coverage), landings (95% coverage)
1° x1° by month for surface gears; 5° x5° by month or quarter for longline
1° x0.5° for some countries, ICES Division for all
5° x5° most, 1° x1° minor part
NAFO Division, finer scale nationally
Logsheet data for US purse seine; 1° x1° pole-and-line & purse seine, 5° x5° longline & troll
1° x1° by 10-day period for salmon
Availability of discard data
Yes for some fisheries
Source observer programme
Partial coverage by observers
Three countries only
Negligible data reported on logsheets
Availability of mammal and bird bycatch data
Availability of biological data
Length frequency data, given to SPC
Length frequency, growth, mortality rates, morphometrics, spawning, recruitment, mixing rate, blood, diet, age, maturity
Length compositions, sex by size, maturity, mortality rates, spawning
Nationally only; extensive data provided nationally
Length, age, maturity compositions
Length compositions, tagging data
Availability of economic data
No, one pilot study
No, requested for 1992
No, see under FFA
Availability of environmental data
Not linked to fishery data
Access to ORSTOM data
Summary of Data Collated and Held by Regional Fisheries Agencies (continued)
Availability of vessel data
Yes, type and size
Yes, 1,000+ vessels
Yes, also skippers
Yes, vessel list
FFA Regional Register, plus additional data
Catch data verification methods
Observer programme, transshipment-monitoring,unloading data
Observers; staff contact with vessels, canneries, agents, and others; statistical analyses; independent sourcing
Trade data, certificates of origin, port sampling, observers, transshipment tracking
Landing declarations in some countries
Observer programme, hail system
Unloadings; FFAand national observers; SPC observers in 1994
No, possibly nationally
No, possibly nationally
Restrictions on access to data
Subject to owner's (state's) permission
Access for members via computer networks
Confidential for individual company or vessel. Aggregated data regularly published
Open access for most data
Open access to aggregated data
Open access, under review
Open access for aggregated data
Subject to owner,s (state's) permission unless public domain
Total data volume
200 MB total, 5700 records per year
108 MB (5 MB per year)
2.5 MB for STATLANT 27A data for 1973-1992
17,500 records per year from 1960
Logsheet data: 213 MB & 1.2 million records. Aggregated data: 45 MB & 247,000 records
Not stored in database
1400 time series,1972-1991
2964 time series
Database management system
Oracle, MSAccess, Foxpro
In house (Fortran)
SAS, In house (Cobol)
In house (Fortran)
In house (Fortran)
HP 9000; PC network
Annual cost to the agency of statistical programme
$ 512,000 (excluding observer costs)
Annual cost to the agency of high seas statistics
50-75% of programme (not proportional to high seas catch)
Annual value of fisheries and total catch
See under SPC
$ 400 million
$ 1.0 billion
3 million tons
$ 1.2 billion
1.1 million tons
REGIONAL FISHERY ORGANIZATIONS OR ARRANGEMENTS AS VEHICLES
FOR GOOD FISHERY GOVERNANCE
1. The need for regional cooperation among States for the conservation and management of fish stocks has been formally recognized at least since 1902, when cooperative scientific research commenced with the establishment of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. However, since that first initial step, and particularly since the Second World War, both national and international efforts to deal with stock management have intensified, as fish production has increased dramatically due largely to advances in fish harvesting technology. Nonetheless, these management efforts have very often yielded poor results, and global reviews by FAO of the current state of fish stocks indicate that in most cases present systems of fisheries governance have failed to ensure resource conservation and economic efficiency.
2. A recent report on ocean governance succinctly summarizes some of the pertinent fisheries issues:19"... Overfishing is notoriously resistant to traditional resource management approaches… Uncertainties abound, so that traditional ‘rational’ management approaches based on the underlying assumption of predictability become increasingly unworkable. Because traditional approaches also tend to ignore distributional fairness and to limit participation in the decision-making process, they have limited credibility and lack social support for their implementation among the increasingly broad range of stakeholders involved. … Fishing is often treated as a right without attendant responsibilities. … Rule compliance is generally low and pressures within fishery management lead to decisions that err on the side of risk rather than caution."20
3. Given this assessment of fisheries governance, and taking account of the state of many of the world’s fisheries, two questions might be asked concerning governance:
- Are fisheries manageable? This question has been posed for decades and the implicit assumption is that fisheries are governable, despite the high degree of ‘lawlessness’ in the fishing industry that is probably unparalleled in any other economic activity. However, it is now being increasingly recognized that for fisheries governance to be effective present management systems must be changed so as to permit them to take a longer-term management perspective whereby they are more flexible and adaptable21. It should be further recognized that all decisions concerning governance are implemented through national action, since States, individually or collectively, without prejudice of their sovereign rights, are responsible for taking the necessary steps to give effect to such decisions.
- Who is responsible for the poor state of fisheries management? Until the very recent past, and in keeping with conventional wisdom relating to national sovereignty and accountability for the protection of national resources, States have assumed a highly centralized, non-participatory approach to fisheries management (i.e., the conventional model within which there was little consultation with stakeholders, including industry representatives). Despite a high level of non-transparent influence of fishery lobbies this approach has not generally been effective, and it might be argued therefore that States themselves must assume much of the responsibility for fisheries management failures.
4. Addressing and improving fisheries governance must be viewed against a recent more general trend in the shift in the role of government.22 In this period of adjustment when the role of government is changing and stakeholders are assuming greater participation in decision making (at least in the most democratic countries) the challenge for the State is how to promote and facilitate fisheries governance that is effective in terms of conservation and economic performance, equitable for both current and future generations, and broadly accepted to all stakeholders. The latter includes those who have a direct and real interest in the fisheries sector and those that do not but which, none-the-less, consider that they have a right to participate in decisions concerning what they consider a heritage of humankind. It is this situation, highly summarized, that challenges States, as national resource custodians, and stakeholders in arriving at arrangements designed to strengthen fisheries governance that will ensure the long-term sustainable exploitation of stocks.
5. In keeping with the general philosophy of involving stakeholders more fully in resource management and development, Agenda 21 of the UN Conference on Environment and Development notes that one of the fundamental prerequisites for the achievement of sustainable development is broad public participation in decision making.23 This includes new forms of participation in the process of moving towards a real social partnership in support of common efforts for such development. Moreover, Agenda 21 further notes that, with respect to the United Nations institutions at least, broader participation should be on a non-discriminatory basis.24 However, for most regional fishery bodies or arrangements, observer participation is not automatic, with no clear guidelines for participation. Normally, industry organizations are treated differently from international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), with no objection being raised concerning the participation of the former, in comparison to the latter. Although regional bodies or arrangements have been encouraged to facilitate broader stakeholder participation, steps in that direction have been modest, with many governments continuing to object to INGOs having observer status at their sessions.25
6. Central to the process of governance under a decentralized management approach is the notion that stakeholders with a real interest in a fishery should have the opportunity to participate transparently in the formulation and implementation of fisheries management decisions. Furthermore, this approach to governance implies, inter alia, that stakeholders will:
- act responsibly as co-managers in a fishery, being accountable for their actions and or inaction with respect to management;
- ensure that fisheries are exploited in a long-term sustainable manner and that decisions concerning exploitation are flexible and adaptable, capable of taking account of circumstances that can change rapidly;
- take a holistic view of fisheries management (i.e., an eco-system approach including the people) and allocate fishing opportunities that will promote orderly, rational and efficient behaviour and outcomes;
- apply the precautionary approach in decision making in situations where information is incomplete or lacking; and
- ensure that the real costs associated with fishing and fisheries are allocated and that these costs are ultimately reflected in the price of fish.
II. LEVELS OF GOVERNANCE
7. While the focus of this paper is on the role of regional fisheries governance, it should be recognized that management systems and action taken both at the global and national levels impact upon regional governance decision-making and consequent outcomes.
8. Global fisheries governance centres around decision-making by international bodies such as the United Nations General Assembly, the Governing Bodies of FAO, including subsidiary bodies, and most importantly, for fishery policy matters, the Committee on Fisheries (COFI).26 These bodies have the task of adopting policy and legal instruments that provide the framework for fisheries governance at all levels.
9. On the other hand, national fisheries governance involves, consistent with international and national law, the adoption and implementation of management systems for resources falling under national jurisdiction. It is noteworthy that, at this level, the shifts in governance have been most significant over the last five years. It is also at this level that the change in rights and responsibilities brought about by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982 Convention) has had the most impact on governance (e.g. principally, the introduction of extended jurisdiction). The changes already observed in some developed countries, and which are likely to be required in most distant-water fishing nations, relate primarily to institutional arrangements and the role and participation of stakeholders in decision-making processes.27
10. Regional fisheries governance focuses on international, cooperative management of shared resources, including those stocks occurring on the high seas. The foundation and framework for regional governance is specified in global instruments, some of which are considered in the next section. At the same time, it must be recognized that sound regional governance depends on effective input from members of regional bodies. This issue concerns two key points:
- the political willingness of States to participate openly and cooperatively for the good governance of stocks subject to management; and
- the national capacity to meet commitments and obligations technically and financially.
III. REGIONAL FISHERIES GOVERNANCE
Policy and legal references
11. The 1982 Convention refers to regional fishery organizations in the context of management of different types of stocks that cannot be managed by a single State (i.e., because they straddle or occur beyond the national jurisdiction). Under these circumstances concerned States are obligated internationally to take steps to implement cooperative conservation and management measures. Regional fishery bodies are the vehicles by which this obligation can be fulfilled.28
12. Chapter 17 of Agenda 21 reiterates the need for, and the role of, regional fishery bodies, in the process of achieving sustainable fisheries development. This serves to refocus international attention on the importance of regional bodies or arrangements, underscoring the unique role they should play in securing long-term sustainable use of living marine resources. Moreover, Chapter 17 addresses the need for effective bilateral and multilateral cooperation, within the framework of subregional and regional fisheries bodies, in the programme areas relating to the sustainable use and conservation of high seas and EEZ fisheries. The necessity for coordination and cooperation between regional bodies is also highlighted.
13. Programme area C of Chapter 17 called for a United Nations intergovernmental conference to consider the conservation and management of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks. This conference, which commenced shortly after the Rio Summit, extended from 1993 to 1995. The conference culminated in the adoption of an agreement, commonly known as the UN Fish Stocks Agreement29, in which regional organizations or arrangements were accorded high priority in achieving sustainable practice for the management of the two type of fish stocks. Part III of the Agreement, relating to mechanisms for international cooperation concerning straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks, specifies the scope and role of regional organizations or arrangements in facilitating management. This level of detail for these organizations and arrangements had not been previously elaborated in an international fisheries instrument, and as such it served to underscore, yet again, the critical role to be played by regional mechanisms in fishery governance.
14. At the same time that the UN Fish Stocks Agreement was being negotiated, FAO Members were engaged in the negotiation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.30 A voluntary instrument designed to be implemented in a broad manner by all actors involved in the fisheries sector, the Code seeks to promote structural change in the sector in terms of how resources are exploited, managed and used. If effectively implemented by States, the Code should facilitate sustainable practice, as called for in Agenda 21, in lieu of the rapid, and often uncontrolled, exploitation and development that has been characteristic of the fisheries sector up to 1980s.
15. The Code of Conduct urges regional fishery bodies or arrangements to participate in the implementation of all aspects of the Code. However, in the articles relating to fisheries management and fishing operations, a particular call is made to States and regional bodies or arrangements to undertake a number of activities that will promote good governance. With respect to these two articles, the Code encourages States and regional organizations and arrangements, inter alia, to:
- apply the precautionary approach to fisheries conservation and management and establish target reference points for management;
- establish effective Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) systems and discourage vessels flying the flags of non-members or non-participants from engaging in activities that undermine the effectiveness of conservation and management measures;
- publicize the nature and scope of conservation and management measures. These measures should be based on the best scientific evidence available;
- promote compatible management measures for transboundary stocks and highly migratory stocks, throughout their range;
- foster international cooperation in all matters related to fisheries, including the provision of data and other information; and
- compile data and information (including data on by-catch and waste) and make them available, as appropriate;
In addition, echoing the sentiment expressed in Agenda 21, States that are not members of a regional organization or arrangement, but which have a real interest in a particular fishery falling under its competence, should cooperate by becoming members of the organization or arrangement, and actively participate in its work. States that opt not to become members should nevertheless cooperate in the conservation and management of the stocks in question by giving effect to management measures adopted by the organization or arrangement.
16. A similar call is made to States regarding participation in regional bodies or arrangements in the Preamble of the 1993 Agreement to Promote Compliance with International Conservation and Management Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas (Compliance Agreement). The implementation of this agreement will rely on regional cooperation among States to a significant extent. The Agreement, therefore, assigns regional fishery bodies or arrangements, the task of facilitating such cooperation.
17. The Law of the Sea Convention and other recently concluded instruments indicate the policy and legal role that regional fishery organizations or arrangements should play in promoting sustainable fisheries development. Agenda 21, most notably, re-emphasized the importance of these organizations and arrangements, and gave the encouragement required to review their objectives and mandates to make them more effective vehicles for regional fisheries governance.
Regional organizations or arrangements
18. Regional fisheries governance is effected through the work of regional fishery bodies or arrangements. In considering whether there were realistic alternatives to these mechanisms, the 1998 High-level Panel of External Experts in Fisheries expressed the view that such bodies or arrangements were essential in reinforcing regional cooperation and that recent events concerning fisheries conservation and management required that these bodies be strengthened to cope with new and additional responsibilities under recent instruments, including the provisions of Agenda 21, the UN Fish Stocks Agreement, and the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. The Panel also expressed the opinion that the last 30 years had been essential for the collection of information and the acquisition of experience concerning the functioning of regional bodies or arrangements, but that the next ten years would be important for the implementation and enforcement decisions made by bodies.31
19. Depending on their respective mandates and structures, regional bodies or arrangements fulfill their missions principally through the following activities:32
- collection and provision of scientific information and data in support of management;
- serving as technical and policy forums. For developing countries this is an important function as it enables countries to exchange experiences and for information concerning governance to be disseminated; and
- by taking action pertaining to the conservation, management and responsible utilization of resources.
There are more than 30 regional bodies or arrangements dealing with ocean and coastal area fisheries, and while some have effective management mandates (including mandates to allocate resources and to effort control) many of the bodies have, in practice, purely advisory functions and little enforcement capacity.
20. While most regional fishery bodies or arrangements that have fisheries management mandates have failed to deter overfishing (and in some cases to prevent the collapse of stocks within their areas of competence), and to deflect serious international disputes, some bodies have, nonetheless, made important contributions to governance by:
- promoting the development of national research and management capacity;
- improving and strengthening data collection handling and dissemination;
- addressing new issues such as fleet capacity, the effect of the payment of subsidies, and by-catch and discards; and
- adopting management measures and resolutions relating to such issues as effort reduction, gear type, minimum sizes and mesh sizes, etc.
However, the effectiveness or slowness of regional governance has been undermined by:
- a failure by some States to accept and implement international instruments central to enhanced fisheries governance such as the UN Fish Stocks Agreement and the Compliance Agreement;
- a lack of willingness by member States to delegate sufficient decision-making powers and responsibility to the regional bodies;
- members of organizations and arrangements not providing complete and accurate data and information concerning their fishing operations, as required, in a timely manner and, in some cases, not reporting catches at all;
- outputs of some organizations or arrangements not being operational because of the absence of an appropriate link between the scientific and technical experts on the one hand, and the decision/policy-makers and those responsible for implementing decisions/policies, on the other hand;
- poor flag State control both by members and non-members of organizations or arrangements;
- the lack of enforcement of management measures both at the national and regional levels, including:
- the absence or lack of MCS mechanisms to enforce management decisions;
- problems arising from many of the regulated stocks being harvested in mixed fisheries where the overall fishing capacity is neither limited or controlled;
- fishing activities of non-members in the waters covered by a regional organization or arrangement;
- inadequate human and financial resources to enable organizations or arrangements to carry out their mandates satisfactorily;
- the low frequency of meetings of organizations or arrangements.
IV. STRENGTHENING REGIONAL FISHERIES GOVERNANCE
21. Despite past difficulties that regional fishery organizations or arrangements have experienced in their efforts to secure more effective fisheries management, they have the potential to be vehicles for sound fisheries governance provided that they have realistic mandates, the required political backing, and the financial and human capacity to function as they are intended. However, to ensure efficiency, and to promote the type of regional governance that is called for in the international instruments, discussed above, a number of key considerations need to be addressed and fulfilled. In particular, individual and collective action by States is necessary to:
- devolve the necessary powers transparently to these organizations or arrangements to enable them to undertake the functions for which they were established;
- adopt a pro-active stance with respect to management and attempt to anticipate crises which may confront organizations or arrangements from to time;
- promote the full and equitable participation by members in organizations or arrangements, including greater participation in determining and funding work programmes, and greater participation in all inter-sessional activities;
- ensure that the organizations or arrangements have adequate financial and human resources to execute their mandates. Moreover, all members should be prepared to contribute financially to the work of organizations as this is considered as a pre-condition for institutional strengthening;33
- periodically review the structures and mandates of organizations or arrangements so that they have the capacity to make effective management decisions and to enforce them.34 Depending on particular circumstances, this may involve a review of their respective legal and statutory requirements, procedural matters and institutional and capacity building measures;
- create new regional organizations or arrangements as a means of closing gaps in management areas35. However, care should be exercised to avoid duplication;
- act in good faith recognizing that the regional governance needs might not always be precisely congruent with national aspirations and goals. In this connection it should be further recognized that many of the problems that confront regional organizations or arrangements arise from the non-compliance activities of members rather than from non-members. When such non-compliance occurs there is often a reluctance on the part of the organization or arrangement to publicize the transgression for fear of creating embarrassment for the member concerned. However, the power of public disclosure should be recognized and used in support of improving regional governance;
- faithfully abide by decisions made by organizations or arrangements and be prepared to exercise effective flag State control in all situations;
- improve cooperation, via transparent manner, between organizations or arrangements, private sector interests and non-governmental organizations so that real effect can be given to the need to broaden stakeholder participation;
- enhance coordination between organizations or arrangements, irrespective of whether they are FAO or non-FAO organizations or arrangements, and other economic groupings, as well as with relevant regional bodies responsible for environmental management;36
- promote maritime boundary delimitation which is essential for fisheries management and resource allocation and as a means of resolving disputes;37 and
- recognize that developing countries face financial, human and technical constraints that can inhibit their capacity to meet their regional obligations fully.
Moreover, efforts should be made to influence the activities of non-members of regional organizations or arrangements. This can be done through international scrutiny and publicity, and if necessary, by bringing moral and political pressure to bear, when the activities of non-members Parties undermine the work of regional bodies or arrangements.38
VI. CODE OF CONDUCT FOR RESPONSIBLE FISHERIES AND GOOD GOVERNANCE
22. The 1998 High-level Panel of External Experts in Fisheries stressed the importance of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries in improving fisheries governance. It was noted "... Among FAO’s major international policy outputs aimed to improve fisheries governance, the Panel stressed the importance of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, adopted by the FAO Conference in October 1995. The Code and its guidelines were technically credible to fisheries experts and readable to non-experts. They are directed toward all States, fishing entities, international organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and all persons concerned with the conservation of fishery resources management and development of fisheries."
23. The Panel considered that a priority for FAO was to ensure that the Code and its technical guidelines be effectively implemented starting with their wide dissemination and translation into official languages. Efforts should be made to highlight and implement major provisions such as those that prohibit fishing unless specifically allowed i.e., it is no longer a given right for all to go fishing.
24. The Panel differed in its views as to how prescriptive FAO should be in recommending governance mechanisms for Members. Some members felt that FAO should take a strong stand on what it considers right, whereas others believed that FAO should be careful in its recommendations, promoting rather the advantage and disadvantage of certain governance approaches. However, the Panel was unanimous in its recommendations that FAO:
- work with fishery organizations or arrangements to promote objective self-evaluation of governance performance, including the development of performance indicators appropriate to governance; and
- address governance issues in international freshwater fisheries.39
25. The work of FAO’s Fisheries Department is geared to furthering the goals of the Code of Conduct by technically assisting Members install mechanisms that will facilitate long-term sustainable use of living marine resources. While the Code over-arches the work of the Department, the inter-regional programme to support the implementation of the Code and the recently elaborated strategy, are designed to strengthen fisheries governance at all levels. Indeed, a measure of FAO’s success in implementing the Code of Conduct will be the extent to which governance is improved and the extent that regional fishery organizations or arrangements become more effective vehicles for management.V. SUGGESTED ACTION BY THE MEETING
26. The Meeting is invited to review the issues and challenges confronting States and fishery organizations or arrangements with respect to improving regional governance and to indicate avenues that might be pursued, and measures that might be adopted, to enhance and strengthen regional fisheries governance.
1 Agreement to promote Compliance with International Conservation and Management Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas 1993. 2 Agreement for the Implementation of the Provision 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, 1995. 3 For this paper, a regional fishery body refers to a mechanism through which three or more States or international organizations that are parties to an international fishery agreement or arrangement collaboratively engage each other in multilateral management of fishery affairs related to transboundary, straddling, highly or high seas migratory stocks, through the collection and provision of scientific information and data, serving as technical and policy forum, or taking decisions pertaining to the development and conservation, management and responsible utilization of the resources. 4 The General Fishery Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) has been amended to provide for an autonomous budget, and for a Secretary to be paid for out of the autonomous budget. However, the amendments have yet to come into force. 5 The Committee for Inland Fisheries of Africa (CIFA), the Commission for Inland Fisheries of Latin America (COPESCAL) and European Inland Fisheries Advisory Commission (EIFAC). 6 These include Agenda 21 of UNCED, the UN Fish Stocks Agreement and the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. 7 Report of the High-Level Panel of External Experts in Fisheries. Rome, Italy, 26-27 January 1998. 8 The High-Level Panel of External Experts specifically suggested that, in the first instance, the meeting should be limited to the tuna bodies. 9 International Conference on Responsible Fishing, Cancún, Mexico (Cancún Declaration on Responsible Fishing) 1992; United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, 1992; The 1993-95 United Nations Conference on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks (Fish Stocks Agreement); Ministerial Conference on Fisheries (Rome Consensus on World Fisheries), 1995; Kyoto Conference on Sustainable Contribution of Fisheries to Food Security (The Kyoto Declaration and Plan of Action), 1995; World Food Summit (Rome Declaration on World Food Security and World Food Summit Plan of Action), 1996. 10 It should be noted that neither the Compliance Agreement nor the UN Fish Stocks Agreement has entered into force. 11 At present, the International Whaling Commission is the only body which is concerned with the conservation and management of a resource in all oceans where the resource occurs. 12 FAO Technical Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries No.2. Rome. FAO. 1996. Precautionary Approach to Capture Fisheries and Species Introductions. 54p. 13 In a communication to FAO dated 21 May 1998, NAFO pointed out that the precautionary approach was a very complex scientific and managerial issue, and that a careful process was required to develop and implement the tool for stock management. 14 Fisheries: Looking beyond the golden age. Marine Policy 8(2), 137-150. 1984. 15 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. 16 Report of the Second Session of the ACMRR Working Party on the Scientific Basis of Determining Management Measures, FAO Fisheries Report No. 236. 17 The Agreement to Promote Compliance with Internationally Agreed Conservation and Management Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas. 18 Doulman, D.J. Structure and Process of the 1993-1995 United Nations Conference on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks. FAO Fisheries Circular No. 898. Rome, FAO. 1995. 81p. 19 For a discussion of issues relating to governance and definitions, see Finkelstein, L. S., 1995. "What is global governance". Global Governance. Vol. 1. pp. 367-372. 20 Costanza, R. et al. 1998. "Principles for sustainable governance of the oceans". Science. Vol. 281. pp. 198-199. 21 Symes. David. 1997. "Fisheries management: in search of good governance". Fisheries Research. Vol. 32. pp. 107-110. 22 Contributing to these shifts are the following: (i) the recognition that the role of civil society and the market is changing; (ii) greater accountability is being demanded by civil society concerning public actions generally, and particularly with respect to natural resource utilization; (iii) government is not the only crucial actor in addressing complex societal issues; (iv) centralized command-and-control interventions of governments are not always effective; (v) government action can be made more effective in a multi-actor network environment in which different steering mechanisms (government, civil society, market) interact for better negotiation and communication, striking a better balance than is currently the case; and (vi) actors at both the international and national levels interact. 23 United Nations. 1992. Earth Summit: Agenda 21 - The United Nations Programme of Action from Rio. UN. New York. 294 p. 24 "... Any policies, definitions or rules affecting access to and participation by non-governmental organizations in the work of United Nations institutions or agencies associated with the implementation of Agenda 21 must apply equally to all major groups. ..." See the Preamble to Chapter 23 - Strengthening the Role of Major Groups. United Nations. op. cit. 25 The 1998 High-level Panel of External Experts recognized the potential contribution of NGOs of all types to the operation of regional bodies or arrangements by providing expertise and in creating awareness on specific issues. The Panel noted that early consultation with all stakeholders was usually beneficial in resolving conflicts and in consensus building. See FAO. 1998. Report of the High-level Panel of External Experts in Fisheries. FAO. Rome.(mimeo). 45p. 26 The 1998 High-level Panel acknowledged that the work of the FAO regional fishery bodies was coordinated at the global level through COFI, which provided the central framework for collaboration. However, the Panel regretted that no practical links existed between COFI and non-FAO regional bodies or arrangements. Moreover, the Panel endorsed the recommendation of the Twenty-second Session of COFI and the Twenty-ninth Session of the FAO Conference that FAO bodies should be reviewed and evaluated in depth by their members to determine what measures might be taken to facilitate the strengthening of each body, as appropriate. 27 National fisheries administrations assume the responsibility for the national implementation of a wide range of international decisions taken with respect to fisheries including the UN resolutions (e.g. ban on fishing with large-scale pelagic driftnets), and other international instruments that a State may accept (e.g. the UN Fish Stocks Agreement and the Compliance Agreement) and adopt (e.g. Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries). The administration also is responsible for implementing decisions of regional fishery bodies to which a State may belong. 28 Article 63 of the 1982 Convention provides for regional bodies for stocks occurring within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of two or more coastal States or both within the EEZ and in area beyond and adjacent to it; Article 66(5) provides for the establishment of regional bodies for anadromous stocks; while Article 118 addresses the need to establish fishery bodies, as a means of cooperation between States, for the conservation and management of high seas living resources. 29 1995 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 Agreement is not yet in force. 30 FAO support for the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries forms a major component of the Work Programme of the Fisheries Department, and indeed, the implementation of the Code overarches most, if not all, of the technical work undertaken by the Department. In facilitating the Code’s implementation, FAO’s role is primarily an advisory one where technical input is provided to assist with the elaboration of policy and programmes that will secure the structural adjustment required for improved fisheries governance. 31 FAO. op. cit. in Note 7. 32 It should be recognized that fishery bodies or arrangements can only operate legitimately within their mandates. Criticism of bodies or arrangements is therefore often misplaced in that the constraint on performance is the mandate and not the technical competence of the organization. To remedy this situation the mandate of the body or arrangement must be reviewed if it is to assume an enlarged governance role. 33 There is a perception that until countries are contributing financially in a direct manner to regional bodies or arrangements, they will not take a continuing and active role in their work. It has been noted that where this is the case there is a high level of interest and participation by members in the work of organizations or arrangements. 34 The 1998 High-level Panel urged FAO to continue its systematic analysis of FAO regional bodies with respect to their institutional and financial arrangements, the strategies used to implement decisions and recommendations and measures taken to address current international fishery issues. 35 FAO is technically supporting two initiatives for the establishment on non-FAO regional bodies or arrangements, as a follow-up to the adoption of the UN Fish Stocks Agreement, in areas where no such bodies exist. 36 Consideration of a regular consultative process is warranted so that regional organizations or arrangements might continue to identify and discuss problems and constraints of common concern; identify and develop strategies and mechanisms to address constraints; share experiences and lessons learned and generally improve the effectiveness of coordination among bodies or arrangements. Such consultation will permit them to promote more coherent management approaches. 37 It is believed that a large part of the resources of the world EEZs are shared between at least two neighbouring nations. Where there are shared resources governance is often impaired by the lack of boundary delimitation (often generated by disputes over non-fisheries resources or territorial claim), and the lack of political will (or interest) in negotiating sharing agreements despite the duty to cooperate under the Law of the Sea Convention. 38 One method to be considered would be to publish in reports the names of the members and non-members that do not abide by regionally agreed fishery management measures. Some countries have used economic sanctions, as Japan did by using market sanctions against imports of northern bluefin tuna that has been taken in the ICCAT area by unauthorized vessels. 39 These fisheries were often complicated by the fact that, for example, river basins are used for irrigation, hydropower, transport and for fisheries, fisheries being often a minor use. Although such complex multiple uses do not occur in the marine environment, the Panel believed that lessons in governance may be transferred from international marine fishery governance experience.