54. Ms Michele Kuruc presented a paper entitled "International Network for the cooperation and coordination of fisheries-related monitoring, control and surveillance activities". The paper is attached as Appendix K. It pointed out that the International Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Network (MCS Network) offered another effective tool in the fight against IUU fishing. The Network, created in 2001, consists of governmental MCS organizations and others that cooperate with each other on a voluntary basis and share information and experiences. The purpose of the Network includes advancing MCS efficiency, sharing training, building MCS capacity, and helping countries satisfy their national MCS responsibilities and international commitments.
55. The Consultation was informed that there were currently 17 Network member countries and entities, and that many other countries were actively considering membership. It was further noted that, in addition to the voluntary nature of participation in the Network, no costs were associated with membership. Members determined their own level of participation, based on available resources. It was stressed that the Network respected fully the laws, regulations or restrictions that each country had adopted with regard to sharing various types of information and ensuring confidentiality.
56. Ms Kuruc explained that details of MCS Network operations were provided in the Technical Terms of Reference, which were developed at the first meeting of the Network's Executive Committee held in Key Largo in 2001. The Terms outlined the MCS Network's objectives and functions, organization, protocol for information exchange and information requirements. It was noted that the Executive Committee guided the Network in its growth and operations, and that it met periodically and stayed in touch through telephone, fax, mail and electronic communications.
57. The Consultation was also informed that the Executive Committee maintained a web site, which can be accessed at www.imcs.org (user name: mcs; password: mcsnet).
58. In discussion following the MCS Network presentation, several Experts observed that the Network was already proving highly useful as a tool for MCS information dissemination and as a means for verifying background data related to vessel registration applications. The importance of keeping the information posted on the Network web site base as up-to-date as possible was firmly emphasized.
59. It was also observed that the functioning of the Network would strongly benefit from the involvement of certain fisheries-related non-governmental organizations and fishing industry associations committed to the promotion of responsible fisheries practices and the prevention of IUU fishing. It was the experience of some Experts that such organizations and associations were often enthusiastic and efficient partners when it came to the provision and exchange of information on IUU fishing incidents. It was also believed that closer links with FAO, and more involvement of the Organization, would also assist in strengthening the Network and make it more efficient.