Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page

Status of IUU fishing in the Mediterranean

10. The Workshop reviewed information and issues raised in the working document prepared by the Secretariat, "Review of activity, measures and other considerations relating to IUU fishing in the Mediterranean" (Appendix D)[3]; hereafter referred to as "Review of Activity"). It also took note of the Information Paper prepared for the twenty-eighth session of the GFCM, "Implementation of the International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing"[4], and suggested that it be published in the GFCM Studies and Review Series.

11. The Workshop considered a presentation of the following areas in the Review of Activity that referred to:

12. The Workshop considered the MCS legal requirements among Members in relation to the following as set out in the Review of Activity: a register or record of fishing vessels; inspection, enforcement and observer programmes; reporting; transshipment; and vessel monitoring systems (VMS). In each category, the requirements varied from country to country, and the benefit of harmonizing some of these laws, especially those that relate to any measures on IUU fishing that may be adopted by the Commission, was addressed.

13. Because there is no comprehensive information available on MCS technical capacity, some Members’ responses to questionnaires on implementation of the IPOA-IUU provided the basis for an assessment, as described in the Review of Activity. Although the results are not based on responses from all Members, they do indicate trends. On that basis, the least capacity was indicated by responding Members for requirements for VMS, radio and/or fax; observer programmes; and reports on high seas fishing. The EC Action Plan for capacity strengthening was reviewed, in particular the use of VMS for certain fleets; revision of the logbook system; and requirements for improved matching among vessel characteristics, fishing licences and permits.

14. The responses to the questionnaires indicated key national-level constraints to addressing IUU fishing, including lack of:

15. The Workshop noted constraints in identifying and quantifying IUU activities, including uneven data submission by Members, uneven institutional capacity and the limited MCS capacity of many Members. Key databases were described, including MedFisis, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) List of IUU large-scale longline vessels and the GFCM capture database.

16. In that context, and to identify and quantify IUU activities, participants were presented with fishing statistics. An analysis of the joint FAO/ICCAT tuna statistics reported by non-GFCM members fishing in the Mediterranean was given first. Since 1997, catches of other species have been comprised mainly of sharks, which peaked in 2001 at around 74 tonnes, compared with 14 tonnes in 2000 and 19 tonnes in 2002. Figures for other marine species caught showed a level of 7 tonnes in 2000 and 12 tonnes in 2001, with nothing for 2002 and the years prior to 2000. The percentage of tuna catches by non-coastal, non-GFCM members, out of total tuna catches in the Mediterranean, was reported as 1.11 percent for 2002. The percentage varied between a high of 4 percent in 1997 and a low of 0.3 percent in 2000. Even more dramatic was the percentage of catches reported by non-coastal, non-GFCM Members of total catches in the Mediterranean. The tuna catch constituted less than 0.01 percent of the total catch, and the catch of other species consistently hovered near 0 percent, ranging from 0.09 - 0.02 percent in recent years.

17. The statistics demonstrated that any decision to combat IUU fishing would need to take into account the fact that there is negligible reported fishing of species other than shark and tuna by non-coastal, non-GFCM states in the region. It was noted that this situation raises issues relating to the costs and benefits of any proposed activities, and would favour activities that could be carried out with commensurately minimal costs.

18. The Workshop considered the special relationship between GFCM and ICCAT, and acknowledged that strengthened cooperation was needed between them for IUU fishing related to tuna species in the Mediterranean.

19. In the ensuing discussion, and with regard to identifying the magnitude of IUU fishing regarding species other than tuna, the expert from the EC observed that establishing lists of vessels authorized to operate in the GFCM area would make it possible to identify the vessels which are fishing without being registered from those which are registered, and could thus make it possible to facilitate quantifying IUU fishing in the Mediterranean.

20. In discussion, some participants considered that the mandate, functions and conservation and management measures of some organizations differ from those of GFCM. In particular, the following special circumstances of IUU fishing as it relates to GFCM were noted:

Still, it could be pointed out that most of the following particularities characterize RFMOs that have taken effective IUU measures: tuna/single species; common measures; few landing ports; common approach to cooperating non-contracting parties; ongoing coordination due to movement of large-scale vessels between regions (common fleets); and management measures such as regional limits for fishing/allocations. Participants from the EC emphasized nonetheless the importance of the adoption by all RFMOs of the same tools to combat IUU fishing, noting action taken in ICCAT, the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) and the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC).

21. It was pointed out that the tools used to combat IUU fishing should fit the special circumstances of Mediterranean fisheries and the GFCM mandate, function and conservation and management measures. In addition, it must be possible realistically to meet and implement requirements at national level, in keeping with a cost-effective approach. In this context, a measure such as establishment of a regional fishing vessel register would be a first priority, and others relating to sighting, inspection and VMS could be addressed at a later stage taking into consideration the special circumstances of Mediterranean fisheries and the GFCM mandate. In particular, the GFCM Agreement may have to be reviewed to ensure that measures such as inspection at sea can be effectively taken and efficiently implemented.

22. Many participants emphasized the importance of ensuring that regional requirements relating to IUU fishing be met at the national level through adequate MCS technical capacity and legislation. In general, they endorsed a "bottom up" approach, from national to regional level.

23. A presentation on the MedFisis project was made by the project coordinator, to describe the progress that has been made in establishing databases at national level (including vessel registers) for GFCM developing Member countries. MedFisis activities were explained, including a census of fishing fleets and a catch assessment survey. The coordinator suggested that the vessel registers could be a potential tool to report IUU fishing automatically, but that because they operate at national level, a mandate for such reporting to the regional level should be envisaged. In addition, the modalities for defining IUU fishing, for purposes of a regional statistical record, need to be further elaborated. It was noted that MedFisis could be used as a link to establish a regional vessel register. A standard for the provision of data would need to be agreed. In this respect, the system of data transmission utilized by sending Excel files to the ICCAT Secretariat was recognized.

24. In discussion, it was recalled that criteria for a regional vessel register have already been adopted by GFCM, especially regarding length of vessel and related attributes, and they may need to be updated.

[3] The reader should note that the report in Appendix D has been edited and will differ slightly from the original working document in terms of formatting and table numbering; the content remains identical.
[4] GFCM/XXVIII/2003/Inf.6.
[5] The measures adopted concern the following areas: three measures on tuna (ICCAT coordination); two on vessel length; two on gear and aircraft; and one on the environment. In particular, reference was made to GFCM Resolution 95/2 which established a minimum length limit of 15 metres for the application of the 1993 FAO Compliance Agreement, and the draft questionnaire approved by the twenty-first session of GFCM in 1995 relating to fleet composition, national practices for the allocation of a flag, registration and authorization to fish for fishing vessels and effort control systems. In addition, the Workshop specifically considered ICCAT Recommendation 02-22 concerning the establishment of an ICCAT Record of Vessels over 24 metres authorized to operate in the Convention Area, and a general outline of integrated monitoring measures adopted by ICCAT.

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page