47. As background to the deliberation on actions taken to implement the IPOA-capacity, the Secretariat introduced document TC IUU-CAP/2004/4, Implementation of the International Plan of Action for the Management of Fishing Capacity (IPOA-capacity): Reviews and Main Issues. The report was based on questionnaires returned by 80 member States on their activities as well as results of regional reviews.
48. Most of these States have embraced the principles of the IPOA-capacity and applied these to their fisheries. Major constraints to progress included difficulties in controlling or regulating access to all fisheries (industrial and small-scale) and in moving towards rights-based-fisheries as well as the related issues of finding alternative employment for displaced fishers and of resisting pressures of interested stakeholders including by industry (harvesting and processing) not to reduce fleets or catch; difficulties in MCS; and lack of institutional capacity to develop and implement capacity management plans, including transition strategies, as well as undertake the appropriate research required (for example, stock and capacity assessments). These constraints were particularly serious for developing countries.
49. The Consultation noted that while some progress has been made in implementing the IPOA-capacity, increased efforts were required.
Measurement and assessment
50. Most delegations reported that efforts were being made to improve their vessel registers or records to include all fishing vessels and improve their data collection systems and analyses, taking note of the difficulties involved when assessing the extensive small scale fisheries in many States.
51. The consultation, having noted the widely diverging parameters used to measure fishing capacity, identified the need to use common parameters acceptable to all Members. It was noted that assessment of fishing capacity was difficult as the efficiency of fishing vessels continues to increase with improved technology, even though the size of the vessel remains the same or even decreases. Many delegations noted that capacity must be related to the status of the fisheries resources and, in many cases, this resource information was unavailable.
Management of capacity
52. Delegations reported on action they were taking, such as implementing and amending new fisheries legislation, regulations and policy and adoption of a suite of management tools (both input and output controls) to manage capacity.
53. With reference to small-scale fisheries, many delegations reported on efforts to strengthen fisheries management in coastal areas to reduce conflicts and described the movement towards management decentralization and co-management involving greater participation of local authorities and stakeholders. It was noted that in small-scale fisheries the tradeoffs between employment/livelihoods and sustainable resources was the most difficult and involved many other sectors and authorities. Many developing States reported on implementing policies such as directing fishing capacity further offshore, providing alternative livelihoods through such enterprises as aquaculture and eco-tourism. The importance of awareness raising and consensus building on access and capacity issues was noted.
54. For industrial fisheries, several delegations described their efforts to address overcapacity issues through rights-based approaches and individual transferable quota (ITQ) systems, in particular. Some delegations reported to have discontinued subsidies that lead to capacity expansion in the past.
55. Most delegations reported that they have made efforts to improve their MCS, but many difficulties still remained, especially in developing countries, with respect to fleet and catch monitoring. VMS was reported as being increasingly implemented in industrial fisheries.
56. The Consultation agreed that the management of capacity was a global issue requiring cooperation at all levels with RFMOs playing a lead role as regards international fisheries.
57. Delegations from many developing States requested assistance from FAO, donors and other countries in preparing and implementing their NPOAs. Some delegations noted the time required to successfully implement NPOAs should not be underestimated as many stakeholders, government Departments and NGOs need to be involved and committed.
Reduction of overcapacity
58. Many delegations gave information on their progress in scaling down the size of their industrial fleets through buybacks, transfers, reduction in subsidies, freezing the number of vessels linked to other more general fisheries management measures. Several lessons learnt by past experiences were noted including the need to take into account the continuous improvement in technology and also managing fishers expectations in terms of compensation during transition phases.
59. The Consultation noted that technical efforts by FAO and other specialists to lay the groundwork for implementing the IPOA-capacity makes a distinction between excess capacity, which is largely self-correcting through market forces, and over-capacity, which requires intervention by fisheries managers. To ensure the most effective use of the limited resources of FAO, RFMOs and States, efforts to implement the IPOA-capacity have focused and should continue to focus on the issue of over-capacity where such intervention can have a positive effect.
Transfer of capacity
60. The Consultation recognized that applying buy backs schemes without scrapping the vessels could simply result in a transfer of capacity from one fishery to another. In cases where capacity was transferred through access arrangements, procedures should be adopted to control and manage such transfers at a global and/or regional level.
61. The Consultation agreed that overcapacity was a major concern in high seas fisheries. The fishing States involved in high seas fishing and those that have allowed rapid expansion of their fleets together with those coastal States that allowed this increase to occur should be responsible for its reduction. States that have acted responsibly should not be disadvantaged.
62. The Consultation also recognized that cooperation between States was critical and that RFMOs had a major role to play in assessing capacity and developing plans to manage and reduce it, where overcapacity exists.
63. The Consultation urged:
States to continue and improve their fleet monitoring programmes;
RFMOs to develop plans of actions for capacity management; and
States to continue the preparation and implementation of NPOAs, noting the need for a long-term policy framework.
Actions directed to FAO
64. FAO should:
provide technical assistance to developing States to prepare and implement their NPOAs;
provide simplified concepts and terminology relating to capacity management in relation to resource sustainability and socioeconomic concerns; and establish common parameters for fleet monitoring;
design a programme to monitor fishing capacity management effort;
publish case studies/examples of best practice used in capacity assessment and management; and
undertake a global review of fleet capacity by regions.