8. A paper entitled "Global overview of IUU fishing and its impact on national and regional efforts to manage fisheries sustainably: The rationale for the conclusion of the 2001 FAO International Plan of Action" was presented by Dr. David Doulman of the Fisheries Department, FAO. The paper is attached as Appendix D. It outlined a number of issues fundamental to IUU fishing. The paper also considered the role of the IPOA-IUU, discussing in particular the range of measures provided in the IPOA "tool kit". The paper drew a number of conclusions and emphasised that all countries, including those that operate open registries, must ensure that their flag vessels are properly authorized to fish and that effective flag State control must be exercised if the deleterious effects of IUU fishing are to be avoided. A discussion of the international responses to such fishing followed, in terms of global action, responses by regional fishery management organizations or arrangements (RFMOs) and national initiatives to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing.
9. Ms Annick Van Houtte of the Development Law Service, FAO, presented a paper entitled "Flag State responsibility and the contribution of recently concluded international instruments in preventing, deterring and elimininating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing". The paper is attached as Appendix E. It noted that granting the right to fly a country's flag raises issues of jurisdiction, control and revenue. It highlighted the fact that, over the last decade, greater and determinative weight has been given to the concept of flag State responsibility for compliance control. It stressed that the issue of "flags of convenience" was not new and the expressions "flag of convenience" or "open registry" States referred often to States that permitted foreign vessel owners having no real connection with those States to register their vessels under the flags of those States.
10. The presentation also looked at how recent international fisheries instruments have addressed IUU fishing with a particular focus on flag State responsibility, including flag State duties. A number of States, while accepting the rights linked to the granting of nationality, have not accepted their correlative obligations of performance. In the high seas fisheries context, a number of States have shown themselves to be either unwilling or unable to exercise their flag State jurisdiction in a manner consistent with their duties under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS or the 1982 UN Convention). International law appeared to sidestep the issue of the "genuine link", focusing instead on the concept of flag State responsibility. As a result, if the international fisheries instruments were not widely implemented, the problems identified at the root of IUU fishing would remain.
11. Following the two presentations, the concept of the "genuine link" was discussed. Some Experts believed that the issue should be addressed with the purpose of clarifying the term's meaning. This could be accomplished, for instance, through the development of a set of criteria on what constitutes a "genuine link" between a vessel and a flag State - a step that would also contribute to strengthening the concept. Other Experts expressed the view that such clarification had already been attempted, not very successfully, and that instead there was a need to look for more practical solutions or guidelines to assist flag States in exercising effective control over their fishing vessels.
12. In this respect, the Consultation recognized that meaningful flag State control was difficult to achieve where fishing vessels operated at distances far from the flag State itself. It was suggested that one option to address this problem would be to rely on other countries to detect and report to the flag State instances of illegal fishing and related activities. In this regard, it was acknowledged that there was a need for greater cooperation between all States if flag State control were to be improved. The Consultation expressed the view that effective mechanisms with "teeth" were essential for this purpose.
13. In many governments, administrative problems arose because of insufficient cooperation and communication between national agencies responsible for vessel registration and those charged with fisheries management. The Consultation noted that although there had been improvements by some governments in coordinating these functions, other governments should pay attention to this matter as a means of enhancing and streamlining national coordination.
14. Problems of transshipment and bunkering at sea were considered significant by the Consultation. Some Experts stated that the concept of a home port for some vessels was not a reality. Consequently, restrictions were increasingly being imposed by countries on transshipments and bunkering at sea. The Experts were of the opinion that these activities must be undertaken in port if controls and checks were to be implemented effectively.
15. The Consultation exchanged views on coastal States that have fisheries access agreements with other States. It was pointed out that under these agreements, IUU fishing and related activities often occur. Consequently, the Experts agreed that governments entering into such access agreements should ensure that they contained adequate provisions for effective flag State control.