(Agenda item 10; Document CWP-20/FAO)
47. FAO reported that in response to one recommendation of the IPOA-IUU (adopted by COFI in March 2001), the FAO Secretariat has collaborated with the Chairperson of the Meeting of Regional Fishery Bodies, to convene an Expert Consultation of Regional Fishery Management Bodies on the Harmonization of Catch Certification, which was held in La Jolla, California, 9-11 January 2002. The report of this Expert Consultation has been published as FAO Fisheries Report, No. 697.
48. FAO informed the meeting of the main outcomes of the Expert Consultation which reviewed the current status of catch certification and trade documentation, the types of documentation programmes already adopted by RFMOs and the impact of catch certification and trade documentation in the areas in which they have been introduced. The Consultation evaluated possible methods to harmonize catch certification and trade documentation schemes. Following one of the recommendations, FAO is currently designing the standard documents with inputs from custom officials who have had experience in handling such documents. The results will be presented to the third meeting of RFMOs that will be held in early March 2003.
49. The COFI Sub-Committee on Fish Trade, held in Bremen on 12-16 February 2002, reviewed the Report of the Expert Consultation (FAO Fisheries Report No.697) and many delegations felt that its outcome was a step in the right direction for the harmonization of catch documentation for trade purposes, but there was a need for further work. It was decided that the matter of catch documentation for trade purposes be referred to the 25th Session of COFI on 24-28 February 2003 for further consideration.
50. FAO will soon publish the FAO Fisheries Circular No. 986: Recent developments in catch certification and trade documentation in Regional Fisheries Management Bodies prepared by Peter Miyake for FAO which reviews further developments in adopting similar schemes by any RFMO and examines efforts in harmonizing the systems. The paper also reviews the forms already in use, compares the forms with the recommendations made by the Expert Consultation, examines the difficulties experienced by various RFMOs and Contracting Parties in implementing the programs and suggests possible harmonized form and instructions.
51. CCSBT reported that its Trade Information Scheme (TIS) continues to operate, with a few changes made after the revision of the functionality of the scheme. The main problems experienced in the application of the scheme have been missing documents, uncertainty of the completeness of the data received, and the poor time-frame for data availability. Members are now required to submit an electronic record of their exports in association with the scheme on a six-monthly basis. The data from exporting member will be more up to date than the TIS documents that are returned from importers (which can be more than 9-12 months after export), thereby improving the time frame for data availability. Importantly, in the future, individual TIS documents from exporters will be reconciled with those from importers, which will identify any missing documents and other possible discrepancies. The CCSBT has decided to impose minimum standards on the quality or completeness of TIS documents for accepting SBT imports. However, the CCSBT has also noted that further discussion is required to determine the essential information that would be required as part of the minimum standard as well as potential problems when applying such minimum standards.
52. ICCAT informed the meeting that its bluefin tuna statistical document programme has been operational for several years. At the 2001 meeting, the ICCAT Commission decided to adopt similar programmes for swordish and bigeye tuna that will probably be implemented in 2003. At present, some contracting parties also submit trade data relating to other species, data that are used to estimate unreported catches of tuna and tuna-like species. Main problems experienced in the application of the statistical document for bluefin relies in the conversion factors and on the difficulties in tracking the documentation especially for farmed bluefin, as several countries are involved in its farming and exporting. ICCAT is starting to undertake some studies to examine the problem of conversion factors which are currently applied to all bluefin tuna products as there is still some uncertainty involved in these conversion factors. Furthermore, there is a danger of double-counting, as various products from the same fish may be converted.
53. IOTC reported on its trade documentation scheme for bigeye tuna in the IOTC Area of Competence (Resolution 01/06), which is very similar to the one adopted by ICCAT. Two positive points can be seen in this kind of scheme: it can lead to an improvement of the statistical reporting, as well in identifying IUU or flag of convenience vessels and tracking their level of activity. Nevertheless, the current requirement for twice-a-year summary information is not sufficient for the IOTC to identify IUU vessels for which the original trade documentation should be required. At present, the use of these documents to estimate the catches of non-reporting fleets is not considered effective as it covers only a part of the catches of the species, accounting only for frozen bigeye tuna exported to foreign markets. To date, IOTC is not receiving any trade documentation data from participating countries. Only Japan has an operating trade documentation scheme for bigeye.
54. CCAMLR reported that its Catch Documentation Scheme (CDS) for toothfish is a global scheme as it is open to all States which fish for, or trade in, Dissostichuss spp., irrespective of whether they are Members of CCAMLR or not. All landings, transshipments and importations of toothfish into the territories of all Parties to CDS must be accompanied by a completed Catch Document specifying a range of information relating to the volume and location of catch and the name and Flag State of the vessel. The core element of the Scheme is a database where participating countries can access Catch Documents and related information through a secure Internet connection in order to verify Catch Documents. In addition, CCAMLR plans to develop a standard set of summary CDS data which would be published annually as part of CCAMLR's Statistical Bulletin. CCAMLR seeks inputs from CWP and other international organizations in order to determine what type of CDS-derived data might be required for their work.
55. ICES notified that at the organizational level this topic has not been considered, but there are member countries which are investigating it. NAFO also reported that this issue has not been examined at the organizational level.
56. The Chairperson suggested to further examine the extent to which these schemes can be used for statistical purposes and underlined the importance of the harmonization of such schemes, in particular that for trade, which may involve more than one the ocean, (e.g. the ICCAT document covers not only fish exported from the Atlantic Ocean but also those from the Pacific and Indian Oceans). It would be preferable to avoid the situation where importers and exporters report in multiple forms, especially if they use different formats.
57. CWP recommended that importing and exporting countries should transmit full trade document information to the RFBs and requested FAO to send the draft forms of the standard documents which FAO is designing to the RFBs concerned, prior to the next meeting of RFBs in March 2003. CWP recommended that the Agencies concerned should liaise on the aspects related to the conversion factors, and the exchange of catch certification and trade documentation information.