more. ">

Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page


2.1 Background: the role of RFBs and the IPOA-IUU

Concurrent with action taken at the international level, and even before the term “IUU fishing” became commonplace, some regional fisheries organizations were already beginning to take initiatives to counter relevant practices.[66] This proactive approach, together with the mandates of RFMOs in general to adopt conservation and management measures, have contributed to a widely held view that RFMOs are the only realistic option for the conservation and management of shared stocks, or high seas stocks. Collectively, their areas of competence cover all oceans, and they offer a mechanism for cooperation, decision and action to both members and, increasingly, non-members.

This view is reinforced by the rapidly increasing number of resolutions, recommendations and related decisions that have been adopted to date by many RFMOs to address IUU fishing and related activities, shown in Appendix 2. Although this compendium is based on publicly available information and may not be exhaustive, it contains a substantial number of measures and actions taken by the RFMOs. Of over fifty resolutions and other decisions, forty have been adopted since 2000, and twenty-nine refer specifically to IUU fishing. Information includes areas of concern to the RFMO, as well as main points of the action or measures taken.

From the perspective of most regional fishery bodies or arrangements - including those without management mandates - the issue of IUU fishing is prominent. The RFB secretariats identified their priority issues in response to a 2002 FAO questionnaire, and IUU fishing was among the issues cited as important by the highest aggregation of organizations.[67]

The important role of RFMOs in combating IUU fishing is reflected in paragraphs 78 through 84 of the IPOA-IUU, titled “Regional Fisheries Management Organizations”. Broadly, these paragraphs encourage States to take the measures and actions summarized below through RFMOs in conformity with international law and obligations. (Although these paragraphs are directed towards regional bodies with management mandates, they have to some extent also been applied by some RFBs that do not have management mandates. Discussion of the application or implementation of these paragraphs in subsequent sections of this document will therefore encompass regional fishery bodies or arrangements as a whole.)

The IPOA-IUU actions and measures summarized above underline the primary role of RFMOs in combating IUU fishing. They provide States, acting through RFMOs, with a number of tools designed for use at the regional level, building on measures that several RFMOs had already developed and implemented. As noted in the Technical Guidelines for the implementation of the IPOA-IUU, “The IPOA-IUU, while recognizing that States are only directly bound by measures adopted by RFMOs of which they are members, also reaffirms that States that are not members of RFMOs have a responsibility to ensure that their nationals and vessels do not undermine fishery and conservation measures adopted by RFMOs.”[75]

2.2 Methodology: current information on RFB actions to combat IUU fishing

Information on the actions and measures taken to date to implement the IPOA-IUU was sought through distribution of a questionnaire (Appendix 3). Although the IPOA-IUU refers only to RFMOs - regional fishery bodies with a management mandate - all RFBs were polled, including inland and scientific bodies.[76] This afforded those RFBs without a management mandate an opportunity to respond if they had undertaken activities to implement the IPOA-IUU, while recognizing that it may be completely outside the mandate of other RFBs. Some RFBs that do not have management mandates contribute to implementation of the IPOA-IUU through providing advice, or providing a forum for members to agree on measures or action to be implemented at national level or, by separate agreement, at regional level.

For these reasons, reference will be made throughout the remainder of this document to RFBs, as a term that includes both RFMOs (as specified in the IPOA-IUU), and RFBs that have reported taking measures or action in implementing the IPOA-IUU.

The questionnaire was comprised of three parts as follows:

Part 1 RFMO Action to Implement the IPOA-IUU: Activity in relation to measures and actions identified in paragraphs 78-84 of the IPOA-IUU. Questions and responses are described in section 3, below.

Part 2 Extent and Effects of IUU Fishing in Area of Competence: Questions and responses are described in section 4, below.

Part 3 Summary of Challenges, Measures and Actions against IUU Fishing Activities: Questions and responses are described in section 5, below.

Responses were received from twenty-two marine RFBs,[77] and of these the total field of responses reported and assessed below is fifteen: twelve RFMOs[78] and three RFBs that no not have a management mandate.[79] As noted above, although the IPOA-IUU refers specifically to RFMOs, this document will take into account responses by all organizations and collectively refer to them as RFBs except where otherwise stated.

Seven respondents, including four RFMOs, advised that implementation of the IPOA-IUU is not now possible or relevant to their activities and/or did not complete the questionnaire.[80] All sixteen RFMOs in existence at the time of writing responded either to the questionnaire or by providing other information.

Of the three RFB respondents that do not have a management mandate, two indicated they have been addressing various areas of the IPOA-IUU.[81] One indicated that no action has yet been taken due to its recent establishment, and responded “no” to all questions in Part 1 but offered comments in Parts 2 and 3 of the questionnaire.[82]

On a regional basis, two transocean RFBs provided substantive responses,[83] as did seven in the Atlantic Ocean region,[84] four in the Pacific Ocean region,[85] and one each in the Indian Ocean region[86] and the Mediterranean, Black Sea and connecting waters.[87]

Responses to the questionnaire were prepared by the secretariats, and not formally considered by members. The information provided by the RFBs can be supplemented in many cases by reference to the relevant body’s website, but this document is based on the responses to the questionnaires in order to reflect information provided and priorities indicated by the responding RFBs.

[66] For example, CCAMLR first identified IUU fishing in 1997. See note 1, above. ICCAT had also taken extensive measures to combat IUU fishing prior to the development of the IPOA-IUU. It adopted a Resolution at its Ninth Special Meeting (Madrid, November-December, 1994), Regarding the Agreement to Promote Compliance with International Conservation and Management Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas, which states that the Contracting Parties should take the necessary measures as soon as possible to maintain a register of all high seas fishing vessels greater than 24 meters in length and provide ICCAT with this information annually. ICCAT has been encouraging non-Contracting parties to do the same. In 1999, ICCAT published a list of around 340 longline tuna fishing vessels claimed to be involved in IUU fishing and flagged to countries operating open registers. Further, The ICCAT Resolution Concerning the Unreported and Unregulated Catches of Tunas by Large-Scale Longline Vessels in the Convention Area adopted at the 11th Special Meeting in Spain, 1998 requires the Commission to request the Contracting Parties, Cooperating Parties, entities or fishing entities which import or land frozen tuna and tuna-like products to submit specified information on an annual basis. The Compliance Committee and Permanent Working Group for the Improvement of ICCAT Statistics must then identify those whose vessels diminish the effectiveness of management measures. ICCAT may then request the revocation of their vessel registration or fishing licenses. For extensive discussion on actions taken by other RFMOs to address IUU fishing and related matters prior to the development of the IPOA-IUU, see Swan, J., “The Role of National Fisheries Administrations and Regional fishery bodies in Adopting and Implementing Measures to Combat IUU Fishing”, op. cit. note 11.
[67] See Swan, J., Summary information on the role of international fishery organizations or arrangements and other bodies concerned with the conservation and management of living aquatic resources. FAO Fisheries Circular. No. 985. Rome, FAO. 2003. 114p.
[68] Paragraph 78.
[69] Paragraph 79.
[70] Paragraph 80.
[71] Paragraph 81.
[72] Paragraph 82.
[73] Paragraph 83.
[74] Paragraph 84.
[75] Op. cit., note 10, p. 7.
[76] Thirty-four bodies were polled, including some that are in the early stages of being established.
[77] APFIC, CCAMLR, CCSBT, CECAF, CTMFM, FFA, GFCM, IATTC, IBSFC, ICCAT, IOTC, IPHC, IWC, NAFO, NAMMCO, NASCO, NEAFC, NPAFC, PSC, RECOFI, SEAFO, WECAFC. This includes all sixteen of the RFMOs in existence at the time of writing.
[80] APFIC noted the biggest problem is the legal, unreported and unregulated small-scale fishing vessels, which will be addressed through APFIC. IOTC, provided a Report on the Progress in the Measures to Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Large Scale Tuna Longline Fishing Vessels, a document submitted by Japan at the Eighth Session of IOTC, 8-12 December 2003, IOTC-S8-03-11. For purposes of assessing the questionnaire, this response is not considered in the total number of responses received because it is a report of a member country rather than the RFB. However, a number of resolutions and other decisions adopted by IOTC on IUU fishing appear in Appendix 2. IWC noted that as the moratorium on commercial whaling is still in force and discussions are not yet concluded on the form a revised supervision and control scheme would take should the moratorium be lifted, it is not possible to complete the questionnaire. Discussions on the supervision and control scheme are focusing on the following elements: 1. National inspectors and international observers; 2. The need for VMS in addition to national inspectors and international observers; 3. The need for additional catch verification measures, i.e. in addition to that provided by national inspectors and international observers. Currently two possible measures are included in discussions: (a) DNA register and genetic monitoring of markets, and (b) catch documentation. While there is reasonable agreement on national inspectors and international observers, there is as yet no agreement on items (2) and (3) above. NAMMCO noted that it does not deal with fisheries as such. It has an Observation Scheme in place that monitors whaling and sealing activities in the member countries, but does not address IUU fishing as such. PSC advised that it does not have direct responsibility regarding these types of issues. The way PSC is set up, it is the responsibility of the various management agencies from the respective parties to put in place the necessary practices. If there are concerns that management practices of a particular agency are impeding the objectives of the Treaty, then it is deliberated at one of their meetings. SEAFO advises that the SEAFO Convention had come into force in April 2003 and the Secretariat would only be formally established with the holding of the first SEAFO Commission Meeting in March 2004. The Interim Secretariat is unable to provide information as there are no monitoring and surveillance activities in place. WECAFC advises it cannot respond to Part 1 because it is not actively involved in fisheries management in the region and does not have any regulatory powers. The responsibility for fisheries management is left to the member countries. The Commission provides management advice or scientific information upon which management decisions should be based.
[81] FFA indicated that measures/action were taken in thirteen areas identified in the questionnaire, and CECAF in five areas, with some other areas under review.
[82] RECOFI commented that as an organization, it has not yet even discussed IUU fishing issues in its two meetings so far. However, some member countries on their own have adopted some measures in controlling illegal fishing by foreign vessels in their waters. Other countries have issued rules and regulations to protect certain fishing grounds by certain fishing gear.
[86] RECOFI.
[87] GFCM.

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page