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14. In deliberating on actions to implement the IPOA-IUU, the Consultation agreed that effective measures must be put in place to combat IUU fishing. It was noted that while progress was being made to reduce opportunities for IUU fishing in many areas, increased efforts were required to ensure that it was eradicated.

All State responsibilities

15. To prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing, the Consultation noted that all States were required to take action. It was pointed out that without the cooperation among all States, measures by flag States, coastal States and port States would be less effective than they might otherwise be. The need for transparency by all States was underscored if measures to eradicate IUU fishing and related activities were to be successful.

16. The Consultation observed that acceptances and ratifications of the 1993 FAO Compliance Agreement and the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement were lower that might be anticipated given the gravity of IUU fishing and its impact on sustainability. The Consultation urged countries that had not already accepted or ratified these international instruments to do so. It was pointed out that acceptance and ratification of these instruments was a key element in implementing the IPOA-IUU.

17. Some delegations advised the Consultation that they had taken steps to revise fishery policies and legislation so that they would reflect the requirements of the IPOA-IUU. The Consultation agreed that sanctions for IUU fishing should be of sufficient severity to dissuade fishers from engaging in IUU fishing. The Consultation noted that in many instances penalties were insufficient to deter IUU fishing and that, as a result, IUU fishers benefited financially from their illicit activities.

18. The Consultation recognized the importance of ensuring that incentives were not provided to fishers to engage in IUU fishing. The Consultation agreed that IUU fishing distorts competition and penalizes fishers that operate legally.

19. The central role of monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) in combating IUU fishing was highlighted by many delegations. It was pointed out that many countries have taken steps to strengthen their MCS capacities. Some delegations advised the Consultation that they had complete vessel monitoring system (VMS) coverage for their industrial fishing fleets. Other delegations indicated that they were also in the process of extending VMS coverage to artisanal fleets. One delegation noted that in strengthening its MCS measures, it had taken steps to ensure that fishers do not sell to traders known to purchase IUU-caught fish. It had prohibited employment of nationals on vessels known to have engaged in IUU fishing. Furthermore, vessels that had engaged in IUU fishing had their fishing authorizations suspended.

20. The Consultation acknowledged the important role played by the MCS Network in combating IUU fishing. The Network has about 40 participating countries. This initiative fosters collaboration between participating countries and facilitates the exchange of information relating to IUU fishing and related activities on a real time basis.

21. The Consultation recalled that FAO had contributed substantially to the work of the MCS Network and that it had been discussed at the Twenty-fifth Session of the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) in 2003. The Consultation noted that FAO encouraged participation in the Network but that it was not appropriate for the Organization to host it because of the nature and scope of the functions of the Network and, in particular, the way it processes and disseminates the information it collects.

22. Many delegations advised the Consultation that they had completed, or were in the process of completing, their National Plans of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (NPOAs-IUU). It was noted by some delegations that elaborating their NPOAs-IUU had been a useful task both in terms of taking stock of existing measures to address IUU fishing and in identifying gaps. It was also pointed out that NPOAs could not work effectively in isolation, and that regional and global action was needed to address IUU fishing.

23. The Consultation recognized that countries, particularly developing countries, were encountering difficulties in elaborating their NPOAs-IUU because of constraints in available resources, particularly technical and financial. It was noted that FAO, through a series of regional workshops, was assisting countries to elaborate their NPOAs-IUU. The Consultation was advised that in the absence of FAO assistance to limit IUU fishing, many developing countries would see it difficult to develop and implement NPOAs-IUU effectively.

24. The Consultation recognized that cooperation between States was imperative if efforts to combat IUU fishing were to be successful. Such cooperation, either bilaterally or through RFMOs, could address a wide range of measures designed to inhibit IUU fishing. States were encouraged to avail themselves of networks that existed in their efforts to combat IUU fishing.

Flag State responsibilities

25. The Consultation recognized that a lack of flag State control by some States was a primary reason that permitted IUU fishing to flourish. In the absence of effective flag State control over fishing vessels, the Consultation agreed that alternative and innovative measures were needed to address IUU fishing.

26. The Consultation considered the issue of the “genuine link”. It was noted that international law lacked clarity on this matter and that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) had been tasked to investigate the issue. It was agreed that if FAO was to initiate work on the “genuine link” for fishing vessels beyond what it is required to perform under the 1993 Compliance Agreement, a definite and new mandate would be required from FAO’s Governing Bodies.

27. The Consultation noted with satisfaction that FAO had convened an Expert Consultation on Fishing Vessels Operating under Open Registries and their Impact on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing that was held in Miami, USA, in September 2003. The Miami meeting focused on the effects of IUU fishing on global fishery resources and on lessons that might be learned from the experiences of flag States that have already implemented tighter control over the activities of their fishing vessels. It adopted a series of recommendations relating to IUU fishing. The implementation of these recommendations would assist in combating IUU fishing. Given the importance of the subject matter, the Consultation noted the need to consider the recommendations of the Miami meeting as a matter of priority.

Port State measures

28. The Consultation welcomed the work being undertaken by FAO with respect to port State measures. It was noted that the Technical Consultation to Address Substantive Issues Relating to the Role of the Port State to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate IUU Fishing would be held at FAO headquarters from 31 August to 2 September 2004. This Consultation would build on the work of an Expert Consultation that was held in Rome in November 2002. An important aspect of the Technical Consultation would be the consideration of principles and guidelines for the establishment of regional Memoranda of Understanding on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate IUU Fishing. The elaboration of these Memoranda would strengthen measures against IUU fishing and assist in eliminating ports of convenience.

Internationally agreed market-related measures

29. The Consultation agreed that a fundamental means of combating IUU fishing was to financially deprive fishers and others of the benefits derived from these activities. The restriction of trade for catches taken by IUU fishing should, consistent with World Trade Organization (WTO) regulations, be more actively promoted with a view to closing markets. Transparency mechanisms that would permit ready identification of IUU-caught product were essential if such market-related measures were to have a significant impact on IUU fishing.

30. Some delegations indicated the importance of private sector initiative such as the activities of the Coalition of Legal Toothfish Operators (COLTO) designed to prevent IUU fishing.

Regional fisheries management organizations

31. The Consultation noted that RFMOs played a pivotal role in galvanizing regional action against IUU fishing and related activities. It was stressed that regional cooperation should be enhanced so as to limit IUU fishing opportunities. A number of initiatives were proposed including strengthening informal and formal networks between RFMOs and closing regional governance gaps that permitted IUU fishers to operate.

Special requirements of developing countries with respect to IUU fishing

32. The Consultation underscored the importance of technical and financial assistance to support developing countries enhance their national capacity to implement the IPOA-IUU through the elaboration of NPOAs-IUU. This issue had been identified by many countries as a major constraint in the implementation of the IPOA-IUU.

33. The Consultation noted that FAO gave high priority to the assistance for the elaboration of NPOAs-IUU but that the human and financial resources necessary for this purpose was limited. The Consultation was advised that the FishCode Programme, a multi-donor programme, served to promote the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and its IPOAs. The need to expand the activities and resources of this programme was noted. In addition, some Regular Programme funding through the FAO Technical Cooperation Programme, had been directed towards the elaboration of NPOAs-IUU.

34. In addition to FAO assistance, the Consultation was advised of the establishment of a Fund under Part VII of the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement. This Fund, to be jointly administered by FAO and the United Nations Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (UN/DOALOS), would assist developing countries party to the Agreement meet their obligations under the Agreement. The Consultation was further advised that a World Bank initiative to assist developing countries achieve sustainability in fisheries could also support their efforts to eradicate IUU fishing.

Main recommendations

35. The Consultation urged countries that had not yet joined the MCS Network to consider doing so as an important step towards further limiting IUU fishing.

36. The Consultation stressed the importance of elaborating and implementing NPOAs-IUU and urged countries that had not yet developed their national plans to do so.

37. The Consultation encouraged flag States to ensure that they maintained fishing vessel registers and records and authorized vessels to fish, irrespective of whether they operated in zones of national jurisdiction or on the high seas. It was noted that States that did not maintain such registration or provide appropriate authorizations to fish should do.

38. The Consultation underlined the importance for all RFMOs to elaborate and implement regional plans of action to combat IUU fishing as envisaged in the IPOA-IUU.

Actions directed to FAO

39. The Consultation encouraged FAO to continue to promote the acceptance, ratification and implementation of the 1993 Compliance Agreement and the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement as a means of strengthening fisheries management and of reducing the incidence of IUU fishing.

40. The Consultation recognized FAO’s work in promoting MCS programmes to improve fisheries management and urged that they be continued.

41. The Consultation agreed that FAO should continue to support the work of the MCS Network as a means of expanding membership and combating IUU fishing.

42. FAO was encouraged to continue its global evaluations of IUU fishing drawing on both national and regional data and information, as well as from other sources, for this purpose.

43. The Consultation encouraged FAO to continue its work relating to port State measures.

44. The Consultation noted that FAO facilitated biennial meetings of regional fishery bodies. It recommended that FAO expands its efforts to encourage further cooperation among RFMOs in their efforts to combat IUU fishing.

45. The Consultation proposed that FAO undertake an objective review of gaps in regional cooperation through RFMOs or arrangements.

46. The Consultation urged FAO to continue to provide technical assistance to developing countries to enable them to elaborate their NPOAs-IUU. FAO could also assist developing countries define their development needs more precisely to facilitate the channeling of bilateral assistance to meet those needs.

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