Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page


(Agenda item 9, Document CWP-21/5)

96. FAO explained the background of the Expert Consultation on Data Formats and Procedures for Monitoring, Control and Surveillance, held in Bergen, Norway, 25-27 October 2004, and gave a summary of the conclusions and recommendations.

97. The FAO Expert Consultation was convened on the recommendation made by COFI (FAO Committee on Fisheries) in 2003, and aimed at facilitating the implementation of the IPOA on IUU fishing. With the increased use of electronic logbooks and VMS, it was felt that there is a need to harmonize data formats and procedures for internationally exchanged MCS information. The Consultation concluded that the CWP was the most appropriate body to advise on these issues and a number of recommendations were put forward for the consideration of the CWP. These recommendations are given in the document CWP-21/5[3] and summarized below together with the responses by the CWP-21 meeting.

98. The FAO Expert Consultation recommended that, when establishing MCS data formats and procedures, the use of international codes and standards recommended by CWP should be applied when possible (para. 6 of FAO Fisheries Report No. 167). The meeting noted this recommendation, directed mainly to States.

99. Concerning the recommendation by the FAO Expert Consultation that the CWP should establish procedures for the proposal and adoption of internationally accepted MCS data formats and procedures (para. 8), the meeting clarified that there are procedures in place for recommending standards. Proposals submitted are discussed by the CWP in their regular or inter-sessional meetings and recommendations are subsequently communicated by the CWP members to their member states for consideration. The role of CWP does not cover the adoption of recommendations; decisions on adoption are made by the individual RFBs and member states.

100. It was noted by the FAO Expert Consultation that the knowledge of CWP among fisheries experts and officials appears limited and it was recommended that measures should be taken to increase the awareness of CWP (para. 9). The meeting agreed with this conclusion and it was recommended that CWP members should work towards giving CWP more visibility. IATTC also suggested that RBFs that are not yet members should be contacted and invited to join CWP. A comprehensive list of RFBs is provided in Appendix 9.

101. The meeting noted the recommendation by the FAO Expert Consultation that FAO should prepare, and make available, tables indicating the correspondence between codes in different schemes with a view to harmonize such codes (para. 10). It was felt that the recommendation was directed to FAO but that it would be appropriate to disseminate this type of information through the CWP channels, e.g. the CWP Web site. It was noted that the CWP Handbook of Fishery Statistical Standards already contains some code conversion tables.

102. One of the most important recommendations made by the FAO Expert Consultation concerned the adoption of the North Atlantic Format (NAF)[4] for developing international standards for VMS position and catch reporting (para. 11). CWP received a letter from NEAFC informing the meeting on the establishment of a NEAFC Advisory Group for Data Communications. The group will have its first initial meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland, in April 2005 and will be open for participation by IGOs. CWP encourages its members to participate in the process of developing NAF noting that, in addition to NEAFC, NAFO and CCAMLR are already actively involved.

103. In conclusion, it was agreed that the CWP was not currently in a position to review and possibly recommend NAF as a standard, particularly since the instrument is not yet fully developed. It was also agreed to establish an inter-sessional electronic working group consisting of all CWP members and coordinated by NAFO. The working group was asked to propose possible amendments to the present NAF that would ensure its usefulness for assessment and scientific purposes. The results will be made available to NEAFC Advisory Group and discussed in CWP-22.

104. The recommendation by the FAO Expert Consultation to harmonize fields and codes in vessel databases relates to a similar recommendation made by CWP-20 (para. 69 of document CWP-21/4). Some time ago, FAO circulated a proposal for a common format for vessel records to CWP members but no response has been received so far. The meeting agreed that efforts should continue to achieve a common format and that the recommendation of CWP-20 should be retained.

105. In this context, the difficulty of evaluating compliance was discussed and it was noted that organizations apply varying criteria in this work. The Technical Consultation on the IPOAs on IUU fishing and fishing capacity recommended FAO to establish a so-called "black-list". The meeting concluded that CWP cannot contribute to such a list as RFBs have differing approaches to black-listing of vessels.

106. The meeting noted the FAO Expert Consultation’s recommendation that CWP adopt the UN-LOCODE[5] as a standard for identification of fishing ports (para. 13). The meeting agreed that RFBs should study the proposed code system and the matter will be included in the agenda of CWP-22 for further discussion in 2007.

107. With regard to the recommendation on CWP’s involvement in MCS operational matters, i.e. on standards for international exchange of information on vessel authorizations and on definitions of fisheries violations and related codes, the FAO Expert Consultation noted that addressing the recommendation would require a review of the CWP mandate (para. 14). The meeting felt that this was not desirable at the moment and agreed to support the work of other agencies.

108. Referring to the overall outcome of the FAO Expert Consultation on data formats and procedures for MCS, the meeting was informed that CCAMLR believes that the CWP’s expertise would be helpful in developing standardized/harmonized formats for MCS-type data. However, much of the CWP’s contribution will need to wait until further work is undertaken by RFBs, other fishery agencies and technical consultations to:

109. The meeting discussed various positions that CWP could take with regard to the recommendations. It was felt that CWP should not be directly involved in MCS or legal matters as such but that there are elements of MCS that are of relevance to the work of CWP. Moreover, it was pointed out that, although VMS is currently mainly used for MCS purposes, the system could also be used for generating data for assessment of stocks and fisheries as well as for other scientific purposes. The meeting recognized that, in addition to not falling strictly under the CWP mandate, CWP does not have the technical expertise required for dealing with many of the technical MCS matters. The possibility of cooperating with other organizations on aspects of MCS that do not fall within the current mandate of CWP was discussed. The International Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Network for Fisheries Related Activities (MCS Network)[6] was identified as a possible partner. The meeting agreed that CWP should take the initiative to contact the MCS Network with the aim to conduct a joint workshop during the intersessional period in which the recommendations of the FAO Expert Consultation be reviewed in order to establish if there are recommendations that MCS Network would like to follow up.

[3] The full text of the Expert Consultation has been distributed to CWP members and is published in FAO Fisheries Report No. 167.
[4] Details of the NAF can be found at and on under NAFO Conservation and Enforcement Measures (CEM).
[5] More information on the UN-LOCODES is available on
[6] The Web site is

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page