Ensuring monitoring contributes to the pursuit of management objectives: An Australian Fisheries Management Authority perspective
General Manager Operations Branch, Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), P. O. Box 7051, Canberra Mail Centre ACT 2610, Australia.
Abstract: AFMA has clear management objectives set out in its governing legislation. Data collections are maintained by AFMA solely for the purpose of assisting in the pursuit of those objectives, which include achieving progress towards accountability, biological/environmental, economic, cost effective and cost recovery outcomes. AFMA applies a partnership approach which is fundamental to the pursuit of overall objectives. There is a clear decision making process in place which involves the formation of Management Advisory Committees (MACs) for each main fishery or group of fisheries. MACs make recommendations to the Board of AFMA which determines management arrangements to be applied. MACs rely heavily on Fishery Assessment Groups (FAGs) for advice on stock assessment and evaluation of various harvesting strategies. These groups have members with scientific, economic, industry and environmental expertise. FAGs assess risks and probabilities of management options and MACs make recommendations to the AFMA Board on preferred courses of action on comprehensive management measures. AFMA has well established programmes in place for collecting logbook data from fishing operators, observer data from independent observers, and compliance data by various means. These programmes are essential to the MAC/FAG process and for the pursuit of ongoing objectives. They are under continual review to improve relevance, accuracy, timeliness and cost effectiveness of data collected.
This paper outlines the management decision making process applied by AFMA, the types of data collected by AFMA and how it is used to contribute to the pursuit of AFMA objectives in relation to domestic fisheries. The paper also identifies initiatives undertaken by AFMA to improve data quality and value. In doing so, monitoring is interpreted broadly, as including the collection of data, samples and other information on a routine and regular basis as a guide to management decision making and for reporting against established management measures.
AFMA is a Commonwealth statutory authority which reports to Parliament through the Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Figure 1 provides an indication of the fisheries administered by AFMA.
Figure 1. Major fisheries managed by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA).
The Fisheries Management Act 1991 sets clear objectives which AFMA must pursue in the performance of its functions:
- Implement efficient and cost-effective fisheries management on behalf of the Commonwealth;
- Ensure that the exploitation of fisheries resources and the carrying on of any related activities are conducted in a manner consistent with the principles of ecologically sustainable development and the exercise of the precautionary principle, in particular the need to have regard to the impact of fishing activities on non-target species and the long term sustainability of the marine environment;
- Maximising economic efficiency in the exploitation of fisheries resources;
- Ensuring accountability to the fishing industry and to the Australian community in AFMA's management of fisheries resources, and
- Achieving government targets in relation to the recovery of the costs of AFMA.
AFMA is also required by legislation to have regard to the objectives of:
- Ensuring, through proper conservation and management measures, that the living resources of the AFZ are not endangered by over-exploitation, and
- Achieving the optimum utilisation of the living resources of the AFZ.
Monitoring, of course, is not an end in itself and AFMA is conscious of the need to collect only that information which is necessary and relevant for the pursuit of objectives. This includes striving for accuracy and cost effectiveness of that information which is considered necessary for good management. From a simple economic perspective, data must not only add value to decision making but the marginal value of any additional information sought should exceed the marginal cost of obtaining it.
The decision making `model' within which AFMA operates has three main features:
- Day-to-day management is conducted by AFMA as a statutory authority operating at `arms length' from the Minister responsible for fisheries matters. The Authority, through a Board, administers government legislation and policies in relation to fisheries management without the need for the Minister to be directly involved;
- AFMA operates on a `partnership' approach with main stakeholders (including industry, environmental and recreational fishing groups; and researchers) and has implemented a number of advisory groups to facilitate that process, and
- AFMA management and executive officers service advisory groups which are generally separately responsible for recommending individual fishery/species management objectives, for undertaking risk assessment and determining management strategies; and for reporting to the Board.
The AFMA Board consists of a Chair and seven members, one of whom is the Managing Director of AFMA and another is a government director. The Board is appointed by the Minister based on the advice of a selection panel which must nominate persons with expertise in relevant fields, such as fisheries science, commercial fishing, economics or business management. The Board determines management plans and approves management policies, largely after considering the recommendations of Management Advisory Committees (MACs).
MACs are established for each major fishery administered by AFMA, or may be established for groups of `like' fisheries. The grouping may be on the basis of fishing method, area or stock delineation. AFMA strives for `whole-of-stock management for each species under one jurisdiction but this is not always possible due to jurisdictional or other constraints. The AFMA Board appoints members to MACs on the basis of their assessed ability to contribute to the development of sound management advice. Again, this is an `expertise' based group, and is not to be representative of different sectoral interests. Restricted to a total of nine, membership normally consists of an independent chairperson, some four or five industry persons with different geographical/method/fishing experience, an AFMA member, a research member, a state government fisheries manager, and/or an environment/conservation member.
MACs are serviced by an executive officer, who is often not a member of AFMA's staff. MACs provide recommendations to the AFMA Board on proposed management measures for the fishery, harvest strategies, administration (including licensing, budgets and levy collection), research requirements and compliance measures. Once approved by the Board, AFMA Management implements fisheries management arrangements and is responsible for measuring and reporting performance against management objectives for the particular fishery.
FAGs have been formed for each main fishery group or individual species. The FAG is comprised of fishery scientists, industry members, fishery economists and other interest groups and meets at least once a year to provide stock assessments and to evaluate harvest strategies. The purpose of the wide membership of FAGs is to take account of not only the scientific information available on each fish stock, but to draw on industry knowledge and developments in management strategies, market prices and the costs of harvesting.
FAG meetings are funded by AFMA from the AFMA Research Fund, which is drawn from government sources on the basis that the wider community has an interest of having robust assessments of stocks and sound resource usage strategies. As such, FAGs are not a body of the MAC and operate independently of MACs although the two groups have clearly interrelated functions. FAGs report to the AFMA Board and their deliberations are relevant to Commonwealth scientific and economic research agencies which undertake much of the formal programmes which provide information to FAGs.
MACs are required, amongst other things, to provide clear management objectives for the particular fishery. This often involves setting biological reference points for fish stocks which may include limit reference points to ensure sustainability or target reference points based on economic or industry imperatives. Management strategies, including a range of harvest options, are also determined once limit reference points have been established. For example, the MAC may determine that a particular stock should not be fished below 40% of virgin biomass. Alternatively, that there should be a 90% probability that spawning stock is above 30% of virgin biomass. These reference points then become the performance indicators for the management objectives for a particular stock. The MAC also provides the FAG with alternative harvest strategies or options which the FAG will evaluate to determine risk levels and probabilities of meeting, or otherwise, the performance indicators over various time periods. As such, FAGs advise on:
- The quality of data, the quantity and relevance of data and the degree of confidence which can be placed in various analyses;
- The impact of alternative fishing strategies on short and long term management objectives, and
- Research requirements to enable the FAG to carry out its functions.
By adopting this approach, AFMA has progressively introduced a Management Strategy Evaluation approach (Smith 1993) which is based on having:
- Clearly defined management objectives.
- Performance criteria related to the objectives.
- Management strategies or options to be considered.
- A means of calculating the performance criteria for each strategy.
In effect, the FAG provides its advice taking account of uncertainty and seeks to identify the risks associated with the alternatives (risk assessment). The MAC considers this advice and provides recommendations based on how the alternatives will contribute to meeting overall objectives for the particular fishery (risk management).
In considering options, the MAC often establishes sub-committees or special working groups with specific functions to assist the MAC. The Research Sub-Committee of a MAC provides advice to the MAC and the AFMA Research and Environment Committee (which is a sub-committee of the Board) on the projects which would be most cost effective in generating the information required by the FAG to carry out its functions. Similarly, fishery MACs usually have other working groups or sub-committees reporting to them on compliance strategies and administration.
Good decision making depends on having good quality information available. This means information which is relevant, accurate and timely. An on-going difficulty for MACs and FAGs is that quality information is often not available when required, or that it may be expensive to collect relative to the value of the fishery. In some fisheries, institutional arrangements may have resulted in some long-term data series not having been implemented in time to be of value. Similarly, some existing data series may be found to be wanting in terms of relevance or accuracy.
The implementation of a management strategy evaluation approach by AFMA since its formation in 1992 means that some of the programmes in place prior to 1992 have come under review. In many instances, established databases continue to be the mainstay of stock assessments. However, on occasions, FAGs have had to heavily qualify their advice because of the absence of adequate data on which to make robust stock assessments. In many such cases, MACs have recommended harvest strategies based on catch levels known to have been sustained (within often wide fluctuations) over a long period, or have opted for `adaptive management' strategies within which catches may have to be substantially revised if adverse stock impacts emerge.
AFMA maintains several monitoring programmes with the intention of providing the information necessary for MACs and AFMA Management to carry out functions.
Databases for stock status evaluation have generally taken two forms: commercially generated information originating from actual fishing operations; and, specific research/monitoring programmes independent of commercial fishing activity.
AFMA runs two main data collection programmes for the production of at-sea, fishing-related catch and effort information for the first of these categories. One is a logbook programme under which all fishing operators must complete and forward a catch and effort record to AFMA. The other is an observer programme under which AFMA-approved observers join the vessel for all or part of the fishing trip.
Fishing vessel operators are required to complete logbooks on a `shot-by-shot' basis after they complete the shot. Depending on the particular fishery, they record the latitude and longitude on commencement of the shot (trawl or line/net set) and on completion of the shot, the duration of the shot and the whole weight by species of fish caught. Other information is often collected, specific to the fishery.
Operators are required to submit completed logbook records to AFMA within one month of the end of the fishing trip. AFMA has an in-house contracted service supplier who checks the data submitted by operators and enters it into the database. AFMA has a policy of obtaining 100% of logbook returns and rigorously follows-up those operators who have not completed/submitted returns.
Problems with this system include many operators not completing logsheets until well after the fishing has taken place, sometimes until the end of the month or later. Follow-up by AFMA may result in poor quality information being submitted simply to comply with the legislative requirement. AFMA has conducted sample cross-referencing of catch logs with processor receipt records for some fisheries but for most log data, the at-sea information provided by fishing operators has been accepted at face value.
AFMA has liased closely with a number of State fisheries agencies to amend logbooks to seek to achieve consistency in the data collected. The intention has been to reduce the number of logbooks multi-licensed fishers have to complete and to share the completed data between agencies. We are pleased with the progress to date but this will be a continuing programme. Apart from advantages to fishers in reduced paperwork, the programme is intended to improve the data collected by reviewing which information is really necessary, and to reduce agency costs in the design, printing, distribution and collection of logbooks.
AFMA places approved observers on board vessels for which verified catch information is required or for which regular and detailed, recorded data is required. The latter may include the application of specialised sampling techniques such as the taking of otoliths and flesh samples or the conducting of consistent size/weight sampling. Observers may also be required to report on environmental interactions during the fishing operation, for example on seabird or marine mammal sightings and mortalities. Observers also monitor compliance with permit or management conditions which is often a subsidiary but important product of their involvement in the cruise.
Independent observers provide information which is credible and reliable for input into stock assessments. However, observer services usually come at considerable additional cost which has to be met from relevant fishery budgets or directly billed to the operator.
Until recently, the main programme requiring observer services was the Australia/Japan tuna bilateral programme under which Japanese longliners were licensed to fish in the Australian Fishing Zone. The cost of observer services was met from access fees paid by Japanese interests. Following cessation of that programme, AFMA observers have been mainly used on Australian licensed boats fishing in sub-Antarctic waters for Patagonian toothfish and associated species. Other programmes have included the use of observers to determine product recovery rates on factory trawlers fishing for blue grenadier off Western Tasmania, for quota monitoring purposes.
AFMA has also contracted out scientific data collection programmes to service providers to monitor catches at sea by trawlers in the South East Trawl Fishery. This provides a level of detail on target and bycatch species and discards, which would not be obtained from normal commercial fishing logbooks. In addition to at-sea collection of biological data, field scientists in the South East Trawl Fishery also collect size/weight information and otoliths from fish markets and co-operatives at major ports in the fishery. This information can be used by FAGs in conjunction with fishery-wide catch and effort data obtained from logbooks. The main purpose of this data collection programme is to collect information for use in the stock assessment process and as such does not have a compliance monitoring function. Operators participate in the programme on a voluntary basis with a sampling regime, which was established through scientific review to provide statistically robust estimates of total retained and discarded catches for use in stock assessments.
AFMA has several compliance monitoring programmes in place which may be grouped as follows:
- VMS location reports.
- Prior-to-landing reports.
- Catch disposal records for product landed in port.
- Fish receiver records.
This information is used in routine monitoring and surveillance. Compliance programmes involving covert and audit investigations of suspect activities often draw on these established regulatory data monitoring programmes for the information necessary for further analysis and possible prosecution.
AFMA prepares annual Compliance Operational Plans for each major fishery. These plans contain a large degree of intuitive risk assessment, which AFMA is in the process of establishing on a more formal and objective basis. Essentially, the plans seek to identify the inherent risk to management objectives of possible illegal activities and to identify control mechanisms which would reduce that risk. Sometimes through the use of separate working groups, but eventually through MAC assessment, industry has a direct input to the assessment of risks and on the development of strategies which would reduce risk. As such, the partnership approach is an essential element in identifying problem areas and in reaching agreement on solutions. Once Compliance Operational Plans are agreed upon by the MAC, they are instrumental in the preparation of budgets by AFMA Management and MACs for the following financial year, during which the compliance plan would come into operation.
As a result of the annual review of fishery compliance arrangements, data collections and the methods used to collect the data are subject to periodic and on-going assessment. As industry contributes to the cost of compliance programmes, the cost/effectiveness of data collections is subject to critical review.
AFMA has operated a satellite-based vessel monitoring system since automatic location devices (ALCs) were introduced as a mandatory requirement for South East Trawl vessels operating in the orange roughy sectors of the fishery in 1994. AFMA uses the Inmarsat C communications system as the linkage between vessel and land earth station. This system provides for two-way transfer of data between the AFMA monitoring office and the vessel. Since then, the system has been extended to provide for more sophisticated measures to assist in the tracking and analysis of vessel movements; and the number of vessels and fisheries covered has been expanded.
The system is used in quota managed fisheries to enable compliance with different quotas in different zones, to assist in the monitoring of catches against competitive quotas; and in the monitoring of closures in input managed fisheries. AFMA has found the VMS to have numerous applications, many of which are still emerging as fisheries management arrangements become more sophisticated. Commercial acceptance of the system has generally been very good once the decision was made to implement VMS. In many instances, fishery businesses have been quick to place computer terminals on-board vessels to enable land-based permit holders to maintain firm lines of communication with the vessel and crew. Safety measures associated with the system have also been recognised and appreciated by vessel operators.
Of course, VMS is not a complete compliance tool in isolation. The system advises where a vessel is but in most cases additional information would be required to prove to the satisfaction of a court that an offence had been committed. It depends on the nature of the management measure required to be observed and the nature of evidence required for a conviction. VMS also may be relevant for use in administrative actions where the fisheries management agency may decide to pursue a particular course of action under its own legislation.
An example of the use of VMS as a means of applying zoned quotas is demonstrated in Figure 2. In this case, the conditions which are applied to fishing permits are an essential component of the compliance package. Vessels fishing for orange roughy in the `Eastern Zone' must not fish in any other zone for orange roughy during the same trip. The vessel must provide a prior-to-landing report and all orange roughy taken must be unloaded on completion of the trip. Conditions also specify what steps must be taken in the event of a breakdown in the VMS system.
Figure 2. The Orange Roughy Quota Zones of the South East Fishery monitored using the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) operated vessel monitoring system. ORE, Orange roughy eastern zone; ORW, Orange roughy western zone, ORS, Orange roughy southern zone; Nth Remote, Northern remote zone, Sth Remote, Southern remote zone.
In several fisheries, and most particularly the South East Trawl quota managed fishery, fishing operators are required to advise AFMA one to two hours before arriving in port, of their catch of quota species and planned port destination. This commits operators to a certain level of reported catch and enables fisheries officers to get to the port in time to check the unloading, if they consider it warranted. Prior-to-landing reports are made by mobile phone to a commercial pager answering service which forwards the information on to AFMA and to fisheries officers in the region. Fishing operators receive a receipt number from the phone operator which provides them with recognition of having complied with the requirement. Fisheries officers can make best use of their time by pinpointing their efforts where they will be most effective, with minimum time wastage. Operators who do not comply risk generating another level of evidence which may be part of a wider investigation and prosecution for a quota offence.
On landing quota species of fish, the Permit holder, or authorised person nominated by the Permit holder, has to complete a form detailing the species caught and an accurate weight of the species. Depending on the fishery, operators also may have to record the number of boxes of each fish consigned and usually the form (whole weight, headed, gilled/gutted etc) in which the fish were landed. The document must be completed within 50 m of the point of landing of the fish.
The fishing operator retains a copy of the completed (and signed) form and forwards the remaining copies with the fish to the fish receiver.
On arrival of the fish at the first fish receiver, the fish must be weighed and the fish receiver (who may be a processor, retailer or fish market) must record the species and weights and sign the copy of the form consigned by the permit holder with the fish. The receiver provides a copy of the form to the fishing operator, forwards a copy to AFMA and retains the third copy on the premises, where it may be inspected if required.
Forms are mailed to AFMA and entered onto the fishery database for the particular fishery. AFMA integrates the catch information with records of quota entitlements and provides periodic updates for management and industry on remaining quota available to each operator.
Catch disposal records may also be used for non-quota fisheries for which detailed information is required on landed catches for stock assessment or other purposes.
Fish receivers who are the first point of receipt of fish in designated fisheries are required to be registered and to maintain a record of fish received from operators in those fisheries and to make that record available on request to Fisheries Officers. In the case of quota fisheries, fishing operators may only consign fish in the first instance to a registered fish receiver and the fish receiver must weigh the fish and complete the documentation.
There are no constraints on who may be registered as a fish receiver, nor on to whom the fish may be consigned once they have passed through the initial receiver. For compliance monitoring purposes, AFMA is working cooperatively with State/Territory fisheries compliance organisations to implement and maintain a National Docketing System. This requires all points in the marketing chain to maintain a record of fish purchased or sold, including details of to whom the fish were purchased or sold. Product movements can therefore be tracked beyond the first receiver, if necessary, and an audit process can be implemented if required.
AFMA recovers 100% of logbook and observer costs from fishing operators. The fishing industry is seen as the principle beneficiary of commercial catch data collected for inputting to stock assessments. Costs may be recovered from the overall fishery by means of levies or by direct billing of particular operators. Compliance monitoring forms part of AFMA's surveillance programmes which, under the cost recovery policy applied by AFMA, are shared equally between industry and government, along with enforcement costs.
In the case of specific scientific data collection programmes such as the Integrated Scientific Monitoring Programme for the South East Trawl Fishery, funding has come from both industry and government research sources but this matter is under review with a view to achieving consistency in approach on the funding and cost recovery of research-related monitoring programmes.
As industry carries the principal cost of data monitoring programmes, industry members on MACs and industry councils have a particular interest in the data collected, how it is collected and how it is used. Researchers also require the information to be of sufficient quality for further analysis. This brings a rigour to the data/monitoring process for which AFMA is responsible and accountable. Industry is generally aware of the need for sound information for management purposes and emphasis is placed on generating high quality information at least cost, rather than simply saving on costs.
AFMA is required to keep all individual logbook data confidential. Catch and effort statistics released by AFMA are generally in an aggregate form to disguise the data provided by individual operators. Exceptions have been made where fishing may take place under a Scientific Permit or special purpose programme and there is prior agreement under the terms of issue of the Permit that details of fishing operations will be released. AFMA may also be required to provide information to courts, where ordered to do so.
AFMA also enters into agreements in the form of Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with research agencies such as CSIRO to conduct research and analysis on catch and effort data which contributes to the pursuit of AFMA's legislative objectives. Under the terms of the MOUs, researchers and their agencies are bound by the same confidentiality provisions as AFMA staff.
AFMA has initiated a programme called Integrated Electronic Data Management System (IEDMS) which is intended to make better use of VMS and electronic data transfer technologies.
The proposed system falls into two categories; vessel-to-AFMA and port-to-AFMA. The first would provide for the direct transfer of data currently entered into logbooks and provide for it to be sent to and directly entered into AFMA databases on a real-time basis. The second would provide for landed catches (particularly for quota managed fisheries) to be weighed on electronic scales and for that information to be relayed directly to AFMA databases. In the case of catch landings, the unloading and weighing of fish could be monitored by independent persons who could verify and thereby add considerable confidence to the veracity of catch landings reports. This system would require standardisation of databases and the integration of what are currently largely independent systems.
Essentially, the system is aimed at improving the relevance, timeliness and accuracy of data, which is a necessary consideration for meeting objectives. Another important advantage of such a system would be the reduction of costs involved to Industry and AFMA in completing paperwork and the physical data entry process. (Note that IEDMS is dealt with in more detail by another AFMA presenter at this conference.)
The core components of a VMS are basically available `off-the-shelf' provided they meet the Authority's performance specifications. The key element of a VMS is the software which enables the office monitoring unit to receive, send and analyse vessel position information. In AFMA's case, the basic software was established in 1994 and since then AFMA has placed more vessels on the system and sought to do more with the system. AFMA is currently in the process of upgrading its software to meet current and expected requirements.
In improving the system's capability, AFMA is seeking to maintain consistency with other Australian and international agencies in the adoption and utilisation of VMS for fisheries management purposes.
Where AFMA has had split jurisdiction across fisheries, particularly in the south east of Australia, or where operators fish in different fisheries on the same trip, AFMA has sought to standardise logbooks and to reduce the number of logbooks required to be carried. This is directly related to the federal system of jurisdictions in Australia such that a fishery operator may find it necessary to hold multiple fishing licences, including licences for Commonwealth and State/Territory fisheries at the same time.
AFMA is progressively working through logbooks to standardise, as much as is possible, the requirements placed on fishers to complete and submit logbook data, the type of data required, and the databases on which that data is held. Over more recent years, AFMA and State agencies have co-operated to standardise selected logbooks for their respective jurisdictions and to exchange data to reduce the paperwork demands on fishing operators. This process requires on-going attention.
Data collections referred to above contribute to the assessment of AFMA's performance against objectives for individual fisheries and for AFMA's overall legislative objectives. In particular, the data assists in determining the extent to which sustainability objectives for specific fish stocks are being met. However, it is clear that adult and juvenile stock levels may vary considerably from year to year as a result of a number of influences (of which fishing is only one factor), and that long-term changes may not be apparent in the shorter term. This is an element which has to be built into the management planning approach for each fishery. The level of confidence in the extent to which data would reflect actual changes in stock abundance varies across fish stocks.
FAGs have given much attention to identifying data sources which would be most useful in undertaking stock assessments. AFMA's Research and Environment Committee has recently made it an important consideration of research providers, FAGs and MACs to determine which research programmes will give the best return towards meeting management objectives for each fishery. Research proposals which can demonstrate a strong claim to relevance and return on funds invested will receive more favourable consideration in the allocation of limited research funds.
AFMA has tended to focus on achieving biological (sustainability) objectives and economic efficiency measures have largely been pursued on a `macro' level. That is, AFMA has generally sought to implement management arrangements which provide for the market place to have a greater bearing on fishery investment decisions leading to a more efficient utilisation of resources. AFMA has sought to reduce the effect of market impediments through the introduction of more secure fishing rights and has encouraged a move towards individual transferable quota management systems for those fisheries for which quotas would be most suited. However, the challenge remains for AFMA and fellow Commonwealth agencies to improve the capability to generate and collect data which would better monitor progress towards meeting cost efficiency and overall economic objectives.
AFMA has sought to tread the path of continuous improvement of its monitoring systems. AFMA operates different data systems but all are designed to contribute to the pursuit of legislative objectives. Whilst AFMA has tended to concentrate on pursuing sustainability objectives, AFMA has sought to implement funding assessment processes which provide for the efficient use of limited research and compliance funds.
The decision making process adopted by AFMA involving the Board, FAGs and MACs is crucial in utilising the skills of stakeholders, in setting clear objectives and measuring progress towards the achievement of those objectives. The type of data sought, the methods of collection, the recording and dissemination of data are all under continuous review in the pursuit of better strategies for meeting management requirements. In doing so, AFMA seeks to ensure that information collected in monitoring programmes is:
i. Contributes to meeting management objectives, and
ii. Reduces uncertainty.
- Cost effective;
i. Makes the greatest contribution to decision making on funds invested.
i. Provides for good decisions, and
i. Is available in the time frame required by decision makers.
In pursuit of the above requirements, AFMA must continue to observe the confidentiality of information received and to ensure the government's policy on cost recovery is met.
SMITH, A.D.M. 1993. Management strategy evaluation - the light on the hill. Population dynamics for fisheries management. Australian Society for Fisheries Biology, Workshop. Western Australia. August 1993.
FAO 1994. Reference points for fisheries management: Their potential application to straddling and highly migratory resources. Information paper prepared for the UN Conference on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks.
HILBORN, R. & WALTERS, C.J. 1992. Quantitative fisheries stock assessment: choice, dynamics and uncertainty. Chapman and Hall, New York, U.S.A., 570 pp.
DEPARTMENT OF PRIMARY INDUSTRIES AND ENERGY 1989. New directions for commonwealth fisheries management in the 1990's: a government policy statement. Australian government publishing service, Canberra, ACT, Australia.
ROHAN, G.V. 1995. The decision making process in the Australian fisheries management authority in applying ESD to commonwealth managed fisheries. Sustainable Fisheries. The 1995 Obihiro Asia and the Pacific Seminar on Education for Rural Development. Japan.
Director for Conservation and Enforcement, European Commission, Directorate General XIV, Fisheries, 200, rue de la Loi, B-1049 Brussels, Belgium.
Monitoring programmes must be clearly targeted and provide inputs for scientific analyses and the enforcement of compliance with fisheries regulations rather than being developed just for the sake of gathering data. The contribution of monitoring programmes to fisheries research has been analysed by various authors. This paper compliments these studies focusing on compliance and enforcement issues and addressing the "vertical" integration of monitoring programmes within an overall "compliance" strategy2. The extent of "horizontal" integration between science and enforcement oriented monitoring programmes is also investigated.
Any analysis of the efficiency of an enforcement regime must address two key areas; the ability of the inspection services to detect and establish infringements and the number and amount of penalties and sanctions administered as a result. Other elements effecting compliance and especially the problems regarding the acceptance of management rules by the industry are also of significance in this respect.
I) The regulatory framework
In the absence of a properly designed regulatory framework, it may be very difficult and/or very expensive for inspection services to establish infringements on the basis of legally acceptable evidence. When such circumstances prevail it may become almost impossible to ensure a satisfactory level of enforcement. However, timely adoption and improvement of the regulations can make life easier for inspection services, and more difficult for those who infringe rules in fisheries with such difficulties.
Inspectors must be given access to vessels, vessel spaces and all other relevant places, and also must be allowed access to all records and documents, including computerised databases.
In some cases it may also be necessary to remove the burden of proof from the inspection services. This would make the work of the inspectors much simpler and pass the onus of proof that a fish had been caught or traded legally onto the fisherman, transporter, seller or retailer, who would have to establish that the fish that they carried or sold had not been fished against regulations.
There are obvious limits to such an approach, and nobody would accept fisheries regulations which would contradict basic horizontal, legal and democratic principles. However, a pragmatic approach can lead to significant improvements. Within the European Union a recently adopted modification of the monitoring and control regulation (Anon, 1998c) has made it necessary for anybody transporting fish to carry documents establishing from whom, where and how, the transported fish has been bought or taken over. Documentation is also required for any undersize fish, defined by reference to the minimum commercial or minimum landing size by species to establish where the fish was caught, imported or farmed.
I.ii) Facilitating the "physical" collection of evidence
Fishing activities are often spread over vast areas, and landings as a result can occur in a large number of locations. However, "bottlenecks" in the landing process may also exist, and regulations can be put in place to assist or even create such situations designed to facilitate inspections (e.g. European Community rules establishing a control system applicable to the Common Fisheries Policy (Anon, 1998c, ibid), NAFO, ICCAT and Norwegian regulations).
Banning transhipments at sea and/or establishing lists of designated ports where landings have to take place, will make it possible to take full advantage of landing "bottlenecks". The same is true when the first sale is only allowed through public auctions, which is the case at least for some fisheries in different countries (e.g. Portugal and Belgium) within the European Union. Allowing transhipments only in some circumstances, where a proper inspection can be secured, creates specific "bottlenecks". Checkpoints, as established by Norway for vessels entering or leaving the Norwegian EEZ, correspond to the same logic.
I.iii) Integrating control possibilities
Relying on a single type of control may be very dangerous. A stringent regime of monitoring and control, only at sea, or only at landing, will never make it possible to exclude illegal landings and sales of fish caught illegally. The possibility of further checking, after landing, must be maintained and it may also be appropriate to check vessels, or fishing gears, before fishing trips. This does not eliminate the need for inspections at sea and whilst the vessel is in harbour.
Although the implementation of control measures is essentially fisheries specific, a combination of integrated control and monitoring actions should constitute the basics of a control and enforcement programme. These should include an appropriate level of security and also make it possible to cross-check and validate collected information (e.g. consistency of sales notes with landing declarations and logbooks). In recent years, cross-checking possibilities have been enlarged within the European Community. In some fisheries, cross-validation can now cover log-books, landing declarations and sale notes, as well as data resulting from catch and effort reports (which have to take place each time a fishing vessel enters or leaves a fishing zone), positions recorded through VMS. (Vessel Monitoring System) and positions logged by patrol vessels and planes.
II) Towards cost-effectiveness
II.i) Monitoring ability
The importance of a regulatory framework, which includes controls at various stages, is essential. Cross-checking as a form of data validation allows inspections to take place at various stages during the fishing process, which also facilitates the achievement of a broad range of monitoring objectives. Historical events have influenced the development of inspection services in the majority of fisheries. Some have particularly developed controls at sea whereas others pay more attention to landings. In all cases, however, inspection services should be able to collect information on the full range of relevant parameters whilst vessels are at sea or in harbour.
In addition to each inspection service having, legal access to the relevant information it should also have the appropriate equipment and the proper technical expertise to exercise its duty. This is an important rather than trivial issue particularly where regulations require technical aspects of the fishing practise to be monitored (e.g. monitoring the horsepower of engines).
In many cases the full range of inspections cannot be covered. Where this is recognised to be the case, and gaps in monitoring practices are recognised to exist, immediate action must be taken to consolidate the monitoring structure.
II.ii) Towards an efficient allocation of inspection means
The optimal monitoring scheme must, be based upon a combination of various tools, related to the costs and efficiency of the types of monitoring practises conducted. (e.g. boarding of a vessel at sea is more expensive than that of a harbour inspection; observer programmes on board fishing vessels are more expensive than vessel monitoring systems (VMS.)).
Special attention must be given to the use of new technologies. In many countries the fishing industry has, historically, been more efficient in taking advantage of such new technologies than inspection services. Times, however, are changing and throughout the world VMS is rapidly becoming an important element of monitoring and enforcement programmes.3 The ability to cross-check information from various sources has also been identified as a major area of technological progress and within the European Community this has lead to the compulsory building of computerised databases by all member states since 1996 (Anon., 1993).
Modern technologies offer the possibility to achieve major cost-effective improvements in monitoring programmes. Of particular interest in this respect are developments in satellite tracking technology. As a monitoring tool this technology is particularly valuable as it has both the ability to provide direct information establishing infringements and a more general role in the improvement of the efficiency of other control means. Although the initial costs of introducing satellite technology are relatively high, cost benefit analyses suggest that savings in other areas of monitoring programmes can be significant as a result (e.g. The European Union has established that a 20% gain in the efficiency of patrol vessels through the proper use of the VMS would compensate for the costs of satellite tracking).
From a more general point of view, strategies encompassing all the available control means must be established, looking for the best possible combinations relative to the constraints of individual monitoring programmes. Ideally one could even consider procedures which would determine the optimal budget allocations to the various control means, and the corresponding optimal combined strategy. Theoretically this would imply that a single, perfectly flexible system could be developed to cover all dimensions of fisheries monitoring and control. In reality this is not the case. Operational partners with particular ministerial or national associations often intervene in the budgetary process, primarily to maintain and develop their own activities. Operational units within a monitoring service will not easily accept budgetary cuts on the basis that an analysis has established better cost-efficiency characteristics for a monitoring and control practise in a domain which does not fall under their responsibility. For similar reasons strategies implying a strong co-ordination between various services at regional or national levels will also be difficult to implement. More ambitious attempts to secure the overall integration of global enforcement strategies, including operational co-operation between partners, is a particularly daunting prospect.
Nevertheless, even if the ultimate optimisation is not at hand, significant improvements are in most cases possible. Cost-benefit analyses can indicate in which direction it would be appropriate to modify the allocation of means and co-operation between the various services involved in enforcement can be organised and encouraged.
The perception of potential violators of the likely consequences, rather than the probability, of being caught is of particular significance to all monitoring and enforcement programmes (e.g. Sutinen and Andersen 1985). Growing concerns about non-compliance in fisheries generally result in, or can facilitate the introduction of more stringent rules. Where such additional regulations are enacted, sanctions and penalties must be rigorous enough to ensure deterrence and enforcement efficiency.
Although increasing sanction levels may be an effective deterrent to the violation of fisheries regulations, the timeliness of enforcement action is also an important issue. Excessive delays between the detection of an infringement and the final decision to act will considerably reduce the efficiency of an enforcement regime. As a complete procedure, including a court of justice, can be lengthy, regulations facilitating the swift imposition of administrative sanctions can be an advantageous enforcement tool. In some countries administrative sanctions can now be imposed as provisional enforcement measures. However, within others, just taking advantage of the possibilities offered by administrative sanctions may be very difficult.
It is important that discussions about sanctions and penalties should not only consider the maximum punishment associated with each category of infringement. Checking what sanctions apply to a particular infringement and ensuring that they are all applied is of paramount importance since the alternative generally results in a final decision which is much less stringent that the maximum allowed. When cases have to be judged in a court, which is unfamiliar with fisheries, it is also of paramount importance to ensure that this court is fully aware of what is at stake regarding compliance in fisheries. Education in this area of enforcement and compliance should be seen as a primary objective of all fishing nations.
Pre-meditated violation of fisheries regulations by fishermen is based on assumptions regarding the financial reward, the probability of detection and the anticipated likelihood and extent of possible sanction.
I) Visibility of the inspections services
The visible presence of the inspection services, resulting from the presence of an observer on board or from frequent sightings of a patrol vessel or aeroplane can also act as an effective deterrent. VMS can also have significant deterrent effects, as potential violators will hesitate when considering the possibility of committing infringements if they are aware of the fact that the inspection services know their locations.
Inspections should be unexpected and inspectors should be "undetectable" up to the last moment of an inspection in order to ensure the element of surprise and secure the collection of evidence of infringement. Where this form of monitoring and enforcement is not an option a policy of maximum visibility can also result in improved deterrence. Achieving the proper balance is not an easy task however, and both components have to be taken into account when formulating monitoring and surveillance plans.
It is impossible to secure compliance through a purely authoritarian strategy and relying simply on voluntary compliance would be, in most cases, foolhardy. Fishermen will never enjoy being monitored and controlled. However, if the majority of fishermen are convinced that constraints associated with effective management are necessary to secure the future of the fishery, enforcement will be accepted as legitimate. Social pressure between fishermen can play a very important part in enforcement. The industry can endorse quite constraining rules if it is clearly established that they are really a prerequisite for effective enforcement. Otherwise fishermen will denounce useless bureaucratic burdens, and try to by-pass rules. It is therefore of the utmost importance to convince the industry that management rules are legitimate, and to establish the necessity of each type of enforcement regulation.
The achievement of this difficult task depends to a large extent on the management regime. Such an understanding, however, can lead to fishermen developing a feeling of ownership vis-à-vis the management of the fishery. The achievement of this level of co-operation however, requires constant dialogue between the industry, scientists and managers. Scientists must make sure that the basic principles of the stock assessment methods they use are properly understood. They must demonstrate that the information gathered by the industry, for instance through logbooks, is fully integrated into scientific assessments and most importantly they must be able to give clear and concise explanations to fishermen and other stakeholders, whenever important discrepancies appear between what fishermen have observed and what the scientific assessments have produced.
Likewise, enforcement rules must be discussed with the industry in order that undue regulations and constraints are eliminated, and those deemed unavoidable are properly explained through rational discourse.
In many fisheries the industry has endorsed programmes of efficient enforcement leading to significant improvement in the operation of the fishery. In so doing this has created a parallel demand for a fair and transparent programme of fleet inspection. All fishermen want to be sure that they do not suffer from any kind of discrimination and that their colleagues flying another flag, landing in other harbours or using another gear, are controlled in an equally rigorous manner. They also want the other partners (e.g. fishmongers, the processing sector, recreational fisheries etc.) to carry a fair share of the enforcement burden.
Fishermen need to be convinced that enforcement services allocate their efforts in a rational way. If not, fishermen who are inspected will feel discriminated against. Within the industry, some fishermen, or even some groups of fishermen, are considered frequent violators. Allegations of this sort, if untrue, may have their origin in rumour and this being the case the doubts of the fleet must be dissipated as soon and as efficiently as possible. Conversely bad reputations may be justified. In such situations, it is of paramount importance to use fleet information wisely and concentrate enforcement efforts on those who are repeatedly responsible for major infringements.
If equity is a legitimate and growing concern, it cannot be guaranteed without full transparency. Although this is an absolute priority it is not an easy task, especially when more than one country is involved. In all cases it must be demonstrated that inspection services follow a rational and balanced strategy and that procedures are available to assess the efficiency of the enforcement and control regime implemented by any party involved in a fishery.
Such procedural review also implies an objective appraisal of the penalties and sanctions effectively applied. This is especially important when various legal systems coexist and the success of infringement prosecutions depends on the rigorousness of the legal approach at a national or regional level. In such circumstances, there is a need for the objective analysis of judgements relating to regulation violations at both minor and major levels.
Section 2.1 has illustrated the fact that monitoring can be just one element of a policy aiming at improved compliance. In some cases priority may not be to develop monitoring, but to improve the legal framework, (monitoring and control regulations, and sanctions) the co-ordination between inspection services, or to develop co-operation with the industry.
Defining the role monitoring programmes can play in the improvement of compliance is impossible, since any efficient enforcement strategy must firstly take into account the specificity of each situation. The variable definitions of the word "monitoring" and the actions associated with different "monitoring" options also complicate this issue. In all cases, however, monitoring can only be efficient if it is part of a global strategy and it is only after such a global strategy has been defined that cost-benefit analyses can be conducted for each of its elements. The results of such analyses will benefit the management of the fishery defining precisely which monitoring programmes have to be launched or developed, downsized or stopped.
Converting the result of these comparative analyses into real decisions may be difficult. It is the author's experience that one of the most difficult steps for defining a rational global strategy is to include new elements which have not yet been part of an enforcement regime (e.g. VMS, an observer programme, Post-landing inspection). Of similar difficulty is the termination of an on-going activity. In such circumstances there are understandable fears at the interruption of such an activity and it sometimes appears to those who are actively involved that the very legitimacy of their work is being questioned.
The assessment of efficiency in monitoring and control strategies requires qualitative and quantitative review of procedures and cost-benefit analysis of proposals for change. By their nature qualitative changes (introducing a new component or eliminating an old one) are more difficult to effect than quantitative adjustments (downsizing, or developing a monitoring programme) but both may be necessary if an efficient strategy is to be successfully implemented.
Many fisheries related actions and activities can be considered to have a monitoring component. Although fishery specific, the analyses of these activities and the potential benefits which they may possess for improvements in enforcement, costs, cost-benefits and possible integration with other actions should not be dismissed.
I) On land, prior to a fishing trip
Whenever fisheries management includes an input management component, vessels and/or fishing gears will have to be monitored whilst the vessel is docked. In the majority of instances, however, this one off inspection will not be sufficient. Cross-checking with inspections at sea should compliment dockside inspections, especially where regulations relate to fishing gear and vessel characteristics (e.g. monitoring horsepower or fuel consumption).
II) At sea
Logbooks remain a crucial source of information. They can be useful for output as well as for input management and benefit from logistic costs being relatively low. Logbooks must be fishery specific and must be cross-checked with various external data (e.g. VMS, landing declarations, sales notes, etc.). This process may easily be achieved through the use of computerised databases with future developments in this area (e.g. computerised logbooks) making it easier for skippers to provide the required information. Cooperation and acceptance by fishermen can also be significantly improved if feedback of information of direct interest to them is regularly disseminated.
VMS offer considerable opportunities for monitoring the distribution and movements of fleets. They are of direct use for effort based management, including those regimes which consider geographical allocation of fishing effort, and/or closed areas. They can be decisive instruments in the implementation of a transhipment ban, or a restricted landing port scheme. In the case of output based management, they must be part of a larger enforcement programme. In addition information gathered from this source can also be used in a very cost/effective manner to cross check other data (e.g. logbooks), and decisively improve the efficiency of patrol vessels and planes. VMS are becoming increasingly inexpensive and affordable. They are user-friendly, and can even bring to fishermen very significant and positive side-effects (e.g. increased security at sea). They also have a significant deterrent effect, and can significantly modify behaviours towards increased compliance whilst maintaining an overall attitude of transparency.
- Observer programmes may be the only way to implement some regulations, especially where sophisticated output based management regimes are in place, or by-catches regulations require a continual monitoring presence (e.g. Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) regulations related to dolphins, or discard rules in other fisheries) Observer programmes are usually expensive and where these are passed on to the fishermen they are considered to be a heavy burden to the industry. In such circumstances individual costs can be prohibitive for very small vessels and significant for vessels with small crews. Although observer programmes can bring in a decisive element of deterrence and transparency they are ideally used in combination with other monitoring and compliance elements. Independent inspections, conducted by conventional or other means are generally necessary in order to maintain appropriate pressure on the observer and to avoid "biases" as, even the most enforcement dedicated observer cannot see everything.
- Patrol vessels, carrying and deploying enforcement officers, are often the only way to obtain some crucial and legally acceptable evidence of infringements. Between boardings, patrol vessels are generally considered to be monitoring the fishery, either visually, or by radar. In most cases, however, they combine monitoring and control in such a way that any attempt to separate monitoring from their combined activity is almost irrelevant. What matters is their final contribution to enforcement and compliance. In this respect patrol vessels are costly but, in many cases, irreplaceable. Hence they must be integrated in a global strategy, and efforts made to optimise their costly use.
To some extent this is also true for patrol aircraft. Although they can collect evidence (e.g. sightings or photographs), provided the legal system accepts them, monitoring is also part of their activity, more so than that ascribed to patrol vessels, since they can cover larger areas in dedicated patrol or monitoring patterns They can collect more detail on the activity of a fleet than VMS, and moreover monitor the actions of vessels which are not equipped with the proper satellite transponders. Although more costly than VMS they can also be more efficient than VMS in terms of deterrence.
Helicopters are in an intermediate situation between vessels and aeroplanes, being generally restricted in terms of their ability to collect evidence, and to monitor large areas effectively.
The monitoring of landings is a crucial element of efficient enforcement practice. The landing process generally creates a "bottleneck" in fishing activity, which can be further reinforced by regulations.
The opportunity to implement "paper monitoring" during this period must be taken advantage of and information must be collected from all relevant documentation (landing declarations, sales notes, etc). "Physical monitoring" can also be conducted with inspections of the cargo and of the landings conducted for far less financial cost to similar inspection at sea. For fisheries involving large vessels may even be possible to achieve the full coverage of all landings which, combined with VMS, can constitute a very cost-effective enforcement strategy. Although very restrictive landing regulations can also be difficult for the industry to accept it is generally accepted that the more restricted the landing possibilities become, the more cost-effective the monitoring and control of landings becomes as a result.
Developments in the collection of landing data are likely to include the integration of data from computerised auctions in monitoring strategies. These can limit the extra burden imposed by "paper record" regulations on the industry, and facilitate cross checking of information. However, special attention must be paid to landings, which take place outside of public auctions, a situation which commonly predominates small-scale fisheries. Specific monitoring and control programmes maybe necessary in such circumstances, although these may be expensive to implement as the "bottle-neck" effect is reduced.
IV) Post landing
The importance of controls after first landing has clearly emerged in recent years. Typical of these are regulations implemented by the European Union and other Regional Fisheries Organisations (e.g. rules relating to the transport and sale of bluefin tunas (ICCAT)). Further controls incorporating the part played by consumers are currently the subject of development particularly in vulnerable and/or high value fisheries.
However, if the possibility of inspections after landings is of paramount importance for a number of fisheries, it is not at first glance a domain where systematic monitoring, either through a census or a sampling procedure, can play a major part in enforcement. Nevertheless, it may be very useful to know or estimate, inputs to the processing industry, import and exports, and consumption figures for the cross-checking of related landing data.
At present scientific advice is often not as useful as it should be due in the main to a lack of adequate, basic data. Improved monitoring, bringing in more detailed, complete and reliable data can thus be of crucial importance in the development of fisheries science.
I) Monitoring fishing capacities
Scientists need reliable information on fishing vessel characteristics (e.g. horsepower, tonnage, equipment, etc.) from all fisheries in order to examine and develop an understanding of the relationships between fishing effort, fishing mortality and other vessel characters. The economic characteristics of vessels operating in the fishery may also provide useful information for fisheries economists, particularly in input management regimes.
II) Monitoring at sea
Logbooks are generally under-utilised by a number of classical stock assessment techniques, either because of the limitations of those techniques, or because they are not considered to be a reliable source of information. However, basic, reliable, logbook data provides a very important input to stock assessment procedures. Developments in this area leading to an increase in detailed, reliable information on fishing fleet activity and catches may pave the way to substantial scientific improvements.
When considering fishing activities, the relationships between fishing effort and fishing mortality, and the equivalent links between CPUE and abundance must receive special attention. The limits of conventional stock assessment techniques (e.g. V.P.A.) have been fully appreciated in this regard, and efforts to improve resolution in stock assessments during the last 15 years have been proposed to include effort and/or CPUE data. The efficiency of these methods depends on reliable data and the establishment of a "good" relationship between partial fishing mortality and partial fishing efforts for one or more fleet units. Usually, it is impossible to establish such relationship without detailed information and any significant improvement in this area would have several major results.
Beneficiaries would include fisheries managed through input management or through any combination of input and output management. From a more general point of view such a data stream would improve the reliability of stock assessments, and consequently the confidence attached to fisheries management decisions. If assessment techniques could take full advantage, without delay, of the information gathered by commercial vessels, it would considerably remedy the delays that affect much scientific advice, especially within a context of TAC and quota management. It would also make it possible to better explain discrepancies between the evolution of a stock, as assessed by scientists, and direct observations by fishermen.
Detailed data on the spatial allocation of fishing effort, provided by VMS, could be very useful in this respect. In some cases it will be necessary to go further, and record detailed information on the basis of each fishing operation (by haul or set). Although such details are generally collected in the case of specific regulations or under specific scientific monitoring programmes, observers are also in the position to make valuable contribution to this data set.
Improved catch monitoring in many fisheries would firstly result in more reliable figures on discards of commercial and by-catch species. Growing concerns about the impact of fisheries on marine ecosystems fully justify special efforts to obtain reliable data, including that for non-commercial species. Getting detailed data on the location and the composition of catches may also be necessary to analyse the spatial distribution of catches. This is very important within a multispecies context, in order to assess technical interactions (e.g. by-catch problems) as well as biological interactions (e.g. predator-prey relationships). Even so, a better understanding of the distribution in space and time of the various age or length groups in catches would be very useful simply within a monospecific approach. It could pave the way towards improved multispecies management, and provide better protection for undersized and small fish. Improved catch monitoring could be achieved through purely scientific programmes. Nevertheless, it could also benefit from the existence of a monitoring programme at sea put in place for enforcement purposes.
III) Monitoring landings
Accurate and reliable landings data is an absolute requirement for the scientific determination of total landings by species, fleet and if possible commercial category and price. The logistic "bottleneck" effecting the fleet is also benefits the scientist, who can collect a significant amount of information with reduced costs in comparison to research conducted at sea.
Even though data collected for enforcement purposes and for research may differ (biological sampling for ages is of little value for enforcement), a very large synergy between disciplines is possible. Enforcement documents, relating to landing declarations and sales notes, which take advantage of computerised data bases, can be extremely useful to biologists and economists. Practical assistance in research programmes may also be arranged with inspection services collecting samples according to scientific protocols.
IV) Post landing information
From an enforcement standpoint systematic monitoring of post landing activities does not seem to be of any great significance. In consequence, scientific programmes cannot expect to develop a worthwhile synergy with enforcement monitoring activities. In order to assess activities related to transport, marketing and processing of fish, scientific programmes, will usually have to develop specific data acquisition procedures which may provide scope for the development of useful synergies with other related programmes.
I) Reliable statistics
In many places throughout the world fisheries scientists devote a significant amount of their time to building estimates of "real" catches, since official statistics do not appear reliable. This problem is wide ranging being commonly attributed to logbook data on both a European (e.g. International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) reports for the North East Atlantic and adjacent seas) and near global scale. . If these statistics were fully reliable, scientists would benefit from an efficient validation of official data and could concentrate on other issues.
II) Optimising research surveys on the basis of the results of monitoring programmes
Fishermen are observers of the marine environment focusing on specific resources. Their aim is to conduct profitable activities, without the scientist's concern for the provision of unbiased estimates of the abundance of fish, or the complete coverage of the geographical range of the stock. . Fishing vessels can provide a volume of data, which greatly exceeds that collected by research surveys. The dilemma facing scientists, however, is that although this data is not generally collected through pre-designed, statistically safe, sampling schemes it far outweighs the unbiased data collected by research programmes.
The real challenge to industry and scientists alike is to find appropriate ways of combining information from both sources. This can achieved to a large extent by using a proper statistical approach. Even if a monitoring programme cannot provide figures of direct use to scientists, it may be able to provide a valuable input into the design of research surveys (e.g. commercial fishing depths and stratification horizons).
If fisheries research is to continue to benefit from high, and even sometimes increased budgets, it must be recognised that successful management cannot be achieved without efficient enforcement. The need for scientists to contribute to the improvement of enforcement is, therefore, of particular significance in this regard.
I) Data validation and cross-checking
It is undisputed that scientists would benefit from an efficient validation process for official statistics and monitoring data and they would also benefit from being active contributors such data sets. Much of the data resulting from scientific sampling can be used for comparisons with official figures and declarations and scientists can bring in a technical expertise, especially a statistical one, which often lacks within services in charge of monitoring and control.
An appropriate statistical analysis of data can be very useful for enforcement purposes, although in the majority of cases, such analyses would not be legally acceptable, should they indirectly reveal individual infringements. However, analyses of this sort can reveal anomalies on which the inspection services can focus, in order to collect further evidence. In essence, the utility of statistical analysis is becoming all the more important given the need to validate and cross-check the ever increasing amount of data which is now being collected in many fisheries.
II) Exploring and promoting new technologies
Satellite tracking has very significantly improved the efficiency of fleet monitoring and computers have paved the way for an extensive use of cross-checking and statistical analysis.
However, these are not the only possible contributions of new technologies to fisheries enforcement. Remote sensing could make it possible to locate vessels unequipped with a satellite transponder, or vessels where this device does not work, be it because of technical failure or illegal interference. The possibility to trace some products (e.g. fish from a specific area) could also take advantage of recently developed techniques, such as genetic fingerprinting.
Scientists are usually more familiar with new technologies than the "classical" inspection services and may even be able to adapt them for enforcement purposes. Improved co-operation between scientists and services involved in enforcement would facilitate "technology" transfers in this regard.
Monitoring programmes offer an opportunity for improved communication between scientists and those in charge of enforcement. The importance of this element is often neglected and as a result, some scientific research sometimes presents advice, which is intellectually attractive but is impossible to enforce. Conversely fishery inspectors may have to enforce regulations based on scientific advice that have never been clearly explained to them.
Monitoring programmes also imply direct contacts with the industry, which can be used to promote exchanges between the industry and scientists allowing positive feedback mechanisms to develop. However, if monitoring programmes are to be used to improve communication between the industry and the scientific community, there is a requirement that those who collect data "on the ground" are properly educated and trained to act as efficient intermediaries.
Scientists need a large variety of data that cannot be obtained from the monitoring of commercial activities (e.g. the abundance and geographical distribution of eggs, larvae and pre-recruits). Disregarding the non-exploited stages of fish stocks, it is now clearly established that reliable stock assessments require access to direct estimates of abundance, independent of data coming from commercial fishing and based on estimates obtained from dedicated research surveys (trawl surveys, eggs and larvae surveys, acoustic methods etc.).
Although such assessments may also benefit from additional scientific data monitoring of commercial activities may also provide economic variables of significance to the models applied.
Conversely data required and collected for enforcement purposes may be of very little use to scientists, although this may depend on the nature of the fishery and the potential for a synergy to develop within the monitoring infrastructure.
Scientific and enforcement monitoring programmes identify and demand different priorities (i.e. complete geographical coverage Vs partial coverage, sub-sampled data Vs total census, aggregated Vs individual data).
Moreover, scientists are interested in a neutral appraisal of what is going on and they do not want to modify normal behaviour, by their data collection methods. The first purpose of enforcement is exactly the opposite, that is, to eliminate illegal behaviour where possible. This leads to contradictory circumstances where in order to obtain reliable estimates, scientists have to be trusted by all fishermen, including those who do not comply with regulations. Likewise, an observer whose priority is to contribute to enforcement may collect some data of scientific interest.
Both fisheries research and enforcement programmes are expensive. Since they do not have the same priorities, this unavoidably leads to conflicts in terms of budget allocations. Within monitoring programmes, diverging priorities between enforcement and scientific programmes will be the rule rather than the exception. Scientists may be eager to give priority to more research surveys, at the expense of monitoring programmes crucial for enforcement and similar stands may be taken by enforcement personnel regarding activities of importance to scientific function. Conflicts due to diverging priorities between scientific and enforcement programme requirements do not only appear at a "strategic" level. Field officers whose priority it is to contribute to one programme may collect data in a manner which is non-compatible with the required sampling procedure of the other programme protocol (e.g. Checking all hauls Vs sampling a proportion of hauls). These difficulties do not exclude the possibility of a reasonable compromise being reached between scientific and enforcement programmes on the basis of trade-offs. However, the diverging priorities must first be recognised and analysed prior to advances in this area being achieved.
Research and enforcement data requirements are fishery specific depend on the nature of the fishery as well as the management regime implemented research and enforcement programmes are necessary to collect such data and are successful in effectively monitoring the fishery in 3 dimensions (surface fleet activity and sub-surface resources).
Such programmes will never be cheap and it is precisely because of their expense that they must be rationalised and designed to achieve the best possible value for money. It is important, in this respect, to encourage overlap between the two major "users", research and enforcement without sacrificing individual programme autonomy. In order to define the priorities in areas of co-operation, a cost benefit analysis must first be conducted separately for research and enforcement. This analysis should integrate both monitoring programmes within an overall (scientific or enforcement) strategy. Such synergies must be encouraged and built on particularly where global policy or decisions on research and enforcement are formulated. In such circumstances, however, a clear choice or explicit trade-off must be made whenever a priority has to be made between research and enforcement activities.
In conclusion it should be stressed that the fundamental goal of monitoring programmes is the achievement of efficient management. Such programmes can simply assist the management regime, or illustrate the necessity to adapt or change a policy that remains unsuccessful. Neither sophisticated research, nor a fierce enforcement regime can compensate for an inadequate management policy and good monitoring programmes alone cannot provide the definitive "answer".
ANON. 1993. Council Regulation (EEC) N° 2847/93 of 12 October 1993, establishing a control system applicable to the Common Fisheries Policy. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Official Journal L261, 20.10.1993, page 1, Luxembourg.
ANON. 1998a. Communication from the European Commission to the Council and European Parliament. Fisheries monitoring under the Common Fisheries Policy. COM (98) 92, final, 19.2.98
ANON. 1998b. Improving the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy. An action plan. SEC (1998) 949 final, 5.6.1998.
ANON. 1998c. Council Regulation (EC) N° 2846/98 of 17 December 1998, amending Regulation (EEC) N° 2847/93, establishing a control system applicable to the Common Fisheries Policy, Official Journal L358, 31.12.1998, page 5, Luxembourg
SUTINEN, J. & ANDERSEN, A. 1985. The Economics of Fisheries Law Enforcement, Land Economics, Vol. 61, N° 4, pp 387-397.
President, World Maritime University, Citadellsagen 29, P.O. Box 500, Malmo S 201 24, Sweden.
The freedom of the high seas is one of the fundamental principles of international law. However, in order to ensure that the principles of unrestricted access do not lead to abuse, international law lays down rules that provide a framework for the exercise of that freedom and for individual States to enforce compliance with those rules through the jurisdiction exercised over their national vessels. It follows, therefore, that a ship using the high seas must have a national character and this applies equally to a fishing vessel. In this regard, it would be important to note that the principle of having a national character has been tested in law. In such cases, it was accepted that "In the interest of order on the open sea, a vessel not sailing under the maritime flag of a State enjoys no protection whatsoever, for the freedom of navigation on the open sea is a freedom for such vessels only as sail under the flag of a State".
The underlying principles governing the operation of any type of vessel is set out in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 1982). Every State shall effectively exercise its jurisdiction and control in administrative, technical and social matters over ships carrying its flag. The actual application of the general principle varies greatly between Flag States and is reflected in their ability to implement international conventions and agreements in relation to safety at sea, prevention of marine pollution and conditions of work and service on board ships to which they may be a party. With regard to fishing vessels, the issues also include the degree of Flag State compliance with internationally agreed conservation and management measures in regulatory fishing areas. Experience has shown, however, that the degree of Flag State compliance is not satisfactory and this is evident from reports to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and, in the case of fisheries, to the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI).
In relation to high-seas fisheries, the matter became so grave in the late 1980's, that the International Conference on Responsible Fishing in Cancun, Mexico, 1992, called for the elaboration of an international legal instrument to deter the reflagging of fishing vessels. This was undertaken by FAO and the `Agreement to Promote Compliance with International Conservation and Management Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas' was adopted by its Conference in 1993. Since then, the `Agreement for the Interpretation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea' of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks and the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries have been elaborated. However, the Agreement is not yet in force, while the Code is largely voluntary.
Notwithstanding these international efforts, the question of promoting compliance with international conservation and management measures has yet to be fully dealt with and workable answers have yet to be provided. Indeed, fisheries are currently monitored in a number of different ways and no single way can give the breadth of cover required for effective fisheries and ocean management. Although it seems to be accepted that an integrated approach to monitoring, control and surveillance should be followed, the elements of such a programme have yet to be established and international standards agreed.
In the maritime sector, the transportation of the cargo in a safe and sure manner has always been paramount. Indeed as far back in time as the Phoenician traders, early standards for marine insurance were instituted and merchant ships carried representatives of the owners of the cargo. The common term to given to such a person translates as "supercargo" in English or "sobrecargo" in Spanish.
The supercargo supervised the loading and stowage of the cargo on board the ship but did not have executive powers when the ship was at sea. Nevertheless, the supercargo would control the condition of the cargo and maintain a constant check that the ships' bilges were kept dry. Although performing such technical duties, the supercargo was rarely a navigator but more often a trade expert. Decisions with regard to the destination of the cargo and where or how it would be sold would have been made by the supercargo, as would those on the purchase of new cargo.
In more recent times, the background of the supercargo has changed. Most will be experienced and qualified seafarers who have moved into ship or cargo management. Their role has been more clearly defined and the principles governing the conduct of a supercargo are internationally recognised. These principles cover the relationship with the stevedores ashore as well as with the master of the ship, the officers and crew. They also set out privileges in relation to communication with the shore base of the supercargo, the entry of the daily position and speed in the logbook, weather reports and access to the cargo holds at sea.
The supercargo no longer works alone or in isolation and, in recent years, improvements through international agreement in port management and ship management practices have enhanced the capability of the supercargo to exercise his or her role as custodian of the cargo on behalf of its owner or owners.
If we look at fisheries, the common expression used to indicate responsibility over the living resources of the seas is stewardship. Although this does not imply ownership, in the same way as the cargo of a ship, there is a link with the term "custodian" as used in shipping. In a sense, an observer placed on board a fishing vessel is the representative of the fisheries management regime concerned, whether it manages a fishery resource within an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) or within a regulatory area of high seas. Obviously there has to be a legal basis for the appointment of observers, but, in much the same way as the supercargo, they should be the representatives of the custodian of those resources to which conservation and management measures have been applied. In like manner, therefore, the principles governing the recruitment, qualifications, training and conduct of observers on board fishing vessels should be internationally recognised and applied.
Article 62 of UNCLOS (1982) requires coastal States to conduct research in its EEZ and permits them to place observers on board such research vessels. In the same article, the coastal State is required to set terms and conditions relating to joint ventures or other co-operative arrangements concerning fisheries operations. Article 18 of the UN Agreement on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks provides for measures to be taken by a flag State that include requirements for verifying the catch of target and non-target species through such means as observer programmes. In addition, arrangements for the monitoring, control and surveillance of such vessels, their fishing operations and related activities should include, inter alia, the implementation of national observer programmes and subregional and regional observer programmes in which the flag State is a participant. The arrangements for such vessels permit access by observers from other States to carry out the functions agreed under the programme.
The Code of Conduct sets out that States, in conformity with their national laws, should implement effective fisheries monitoring, control, surveillance and law enforcement measures, including where appropriate, observers programmes, inspection schemes and vessel monitoring systems. Such measures should be promoted and, where appropriate, implemented by subregional or regional fisheries management organisations and arrangements in accordance with procedures agreed by such organisations or arrangements.
The actual role and terms of reference of an observer are not given in any of the above references. This would appear to be a serious omission if the provisions of the Code of Conduct are to be implemented, as they relate to the duties of coastal States, flag States and port States. There are, of course, some regional or subregional agreements that do provide for observer programmes, in some cases, the conditions for the assignment of an observer to a vessel are indeed set out in detail. However, this has probably been influenced by the form of the contractual services agreement entered into by such observers since very few are staff members of fisheries administrations.
The need for an integrated approach to fisheries management was clearly identified by the FAO World Conference on Fisheries Management and Development in Rome (1984) and strategies were developed accordingly. Unfortunately, early successes were overtaken by rapid developments in high-seas fisheries and the drift-net issue. By 1989, the FAO Committee on Fisheries realised that there might be a need for a code for responsible fishing and this led to the Conference in Mexico in 1992.
In the meantime, interest in fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) took on a new emphasis with the possibility of utilising satellite communications systems for tracking the positions of a fishing vessel. Observer programmes were adopted and FAO sought to harmonise fisheries legislation in relation to the implementation of the Compliance Agreement.
At IMO, safety of fishing vessels was again addressed; a Protocol to the Torremolinos Convention was adopted in 1993, and a new convention was elaborated for the training and certification of fishing vessel personnel (STWC-F). IMO also amended the `Convention for the Prevention of Maritime Pollution (MARPOL 73/78)'. In particular, attention was given to Annex V which has a significant impact in relation to fishing vessels. These initiatives taken at IMO and elsewhere were taken into consideration during the elaboration of the Code of Conduct. The Code, which is voluntary, contains principles for an integrated approach to fisheries management and provides for observer programmes. It also provides for a wider interpretation of measures to be taken by a Port State than is contained in other fisheries agreements. Indeed it is probable worthwhile to give the text of Article 8.3 `Port State Duties' in full to obtain a clear understanding of the implication these principles as they relate to monitoring, control surveillance and enforcement in fisheries and to oceans management in general. The pertinent paragraphs are:
8.3.1 Port States should take, through procedures established in their national legislation in accordance with international law, including applicable international agreements or arrangements, such measures as are necessary to assist other States in achieving the objectives of this Code, and should make known to other States details of regulations and measures they have established for this purpose. When taking such measures, a port State should not discriminate in form or in fact against the vessel of any other State.
8.3.2 Port States should provide such assistance to Flag States as is appropriate, in accordance with the national laws of the Port State and international law, when a fishing vessel is voluntary in a port or at an offshore terminal of the port State, and the Flag State of the vessel requests the assistance of the Port State in respect of non-compliance with subregional, regional or global conservation and management measures or with internationally agreed minimum standards for the prevention of pollution and for the safety, health and conditions of work on board fishing vessels.
The Code of course, has to be to applied in a manner consistent with the relevant provisions of the UN Agreement on Straddling Fish Stocks, mentioned above, and in accordance with other applicable rules of international law, including the respective obligations of States pursuant to international agreements to which they are party. The Code should also be interpreted and applied in the light of the 1992 Declaration of Cancun, the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and Agenda 21 adopted by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), in particular Chapter 17 of Agenda 21, and other relevant declarations and legal instruments.
Given such a wide mandate, States will have to ensure that administrations will not only have to adopt an integrated approach to fisheries management; they will also have to interact with other entities responsible for maritime and social matters in relation to fishing vessels. In effect, in addition to addressing issues of non-compliance with conservation and management measures, fisheries administration will also have to take on board aspects of safety of fishing vessels, MARPOL, the certification and manning requirement for crews of fishing vessels as well as conditions of work and service in the fishing industry. Appendix 1 provides examples of conventions and agreements that affect fishing operations in many fisheries; from this it is clear that most administrations will have to overhaul their monitoring, control, surveillance and enforcement arrangements and the way in which the necessary intelligence is obtained. Since much of the evidence in relation to compliance can only be obtained through on-board inspection, observer programmes can become an important management tool. To be effective, however, they must be an integral part of the monitoring system and reflect the necessary linkages with units responsible for MCS, Port State control and data collection. Furthermore, the observers must be suitably qualified and trained for the task.
The general trend, as reflected in the two IMO conventions on training and certification, the STWC and the STWC-F, is to underline the competence of personnel awarded a certificate or dispensation (as the case may be). The certificates so awarded are issued under the provisions of the international conventions and so follow a common format. The same is valid for Port State Control officers whose qualifications, experience required and training to be provided are set out in the IMO publication on `Procedures for Port State Control'. It should follow that any officer associated with monitoring, control, surveillance and enforcement should be suitably qualified and trained in conformity with internationally agreed standards, but this is not always the case.
If observers are to be an integral part of monitoring, control surveillance and enforcement programmes, they should have a broad understanding of the responsibilities of the administration they represent in relation to legal instruments or agreements to which the State is a party. Furthermore, they should all have a common understanding of the interpretation of the provisions of such legal instruments or agreements; this is particularly important where observers serve on board foreign flag fishing vessels. The competence of an observer must be established and accepted internationally through standardised training and certification programmes, not unlike, for example, the STWC-F.
Thus, should the report of an observer result in litigation, the question of the competence of the observer, which would normally be raised by the defendant, may be more readily set aside. This would almost certainly happen in relation to alleged non-compliance with the conditions of an "authorisation to fish" or alleged deficiency in relation to IMO or ILO conventions that could lead to the detention of a vessel. In most cases, however, the report of an observer would be passed to the relevant authority either in the Flag State, Port State, subregional or regional organisation or whatever the case may be. Nevertheless, in the event of litigation, the observer may be called to testify and his/her competence may be challenged.
Obviously an observer cannot be an expert in all matters in relation to fisheries, fishing vessels and oceans management, but the duties that may be expected of an observer could provide the basis for standard training and certification programmes.
As and where applicable, the carriage of an observer should be included in the conditions attached to an authorisation to fish. In such cases the agreement, setting out the role of the observer and the expected co-operation of the skipper of the vessel concerned, would also be included in the authorisation to fish.
The provision of suitably qualified observers is the responsibility of the administration that issued the authorisation to fish and, to date, the various arrangements in use are not all acceptable. Some success has been achieved in certain regulatory areas through a contractual service agreement with a commercial company. These companies, in turn, hired ex-fishing skippers who require little more than a briefing, as opposed to training, to perform the limited duties allocated to the observer. In too many other cases, however, individuals with no training have simply been directed to perform as observers by administrations, often with no great degree of success.
Understandably, fisheries managers have been reluctant to create a cadre of observers on a permanent basis even when the perceived need was long term. In future, however, administrations must face up to the fact that where appropriate, observer programmes can play an important part in an integrated monitoring, control, surveillance and enforcement programme, but they would be effective only if internationally agreed minimum standards of training and certification are applied. This does not mean that private commercial companies should not be used. It does mean, however, that these companies must supply observers that meet the required standards.
A review of the role of observers on board fishing vessels, their rights and obligations may be one way to identify the recruitment process for observers in relation to qualification, experience and training.
The observer should have certain rights and duties, such as the following, that would require the competence of the observer to be established.
A: The right to inspect documents:
- The authorisation to fish, to verify its validity and that the details of the vessel conform with the information given in the certificate of registry;
- Certificate of Registry, to verify that it is valid and that the marking of the vessel for its identification agree with the name of the Flag State given in the certificate;
- Minimum Manning Certificate as issued by the Flag State, to confirm whether or not the vessel is manned accordingly;
- Safety Certificate as issued by the Flag State, in the event of a vessel being in class, the certificates issued by a classification society may be viewed in relation to any conditions of class that may have been applied;
- Navigation and Fishing log; and
- Garbage Record Book, with regard to compliance with Annex V of MARPOL.
B: The right of visit:
- To establish whether or not the vessels carries the appropriate identification marks;
- To inspect fishing gear for compliance with the authorisation to fish and to ensure that any additional fishing gear not so authorised is put ashore or properly secured on board, fishing gear markings to be inspected for identification of ownership;
- Stowage of catch, and
- To the wheelhouse to verify navigational equipment and the operation of the vessel monitoring system (VMS) where fitted and/or where required under the authorisation to fish.
C: The rights to collect catch data:
- Retained on board; and
D: The right to communicate while the vessel is at sea:
- With the Flag State;
- With the State or Regulatory body that issued the authorisation to fish, and
- With the monitoring, control, surveillance and enforcement unit with responsibility for the fishery.
E: Right of Sea Protest:
- When the vessel is in a port of the Flag State;
- When the vessel is voluntarily in the port of a State other that the Flag State, and
- When the vessel is forcibly in the port of a State other than the Flag State.
In the execution of such duties, the observer has obligations in maritime law with regard to the authority of the skipper of the fishing vessel. In addition, the observer has an obligation to act responsibly under the authority vested in an authorised boarding officer. The most important obligation is the recognition that the observer is the representative of the "custodian" of the resource or resources that the vessel is authorised to fish. This also implies that the observer has an understanding of the relevant conventions and agreement, both fisheries and maritime in nature to identify non-compliance and or deficiencies. It also implies that the observer is capable of reporting, in an appropriate manner, in relation to:
- Catch data including species composition;
- Non-compliance reports in connection with the authorisation to fish;
- Deficiency reports in connection with pollution, safety and conditions on board fishing vessels for action by the appropriate authority;
- Sighting reports of other fishing vessels suspected of non-compliance with conservation and management measures, and
- Formulation of a sea protest.
If there is agreement on the necessity of an effective fisheries observer programme along the lines outlined above, then three things are necessary:
- The formulation and acceptance of global standards of training and competency of fisheries observers;
- The establishment of a process of certification and verification of the competency of fisheries observers, and
- The identification and provision of appropriate training capability for both observers and the instructors of observers.
Similarly to recent developments in the maritime transportation sector, the standards and principles for the conduct of fisheries observers on a fishing vessel, and for the corresponding training and certification of such observers, should be elaborated through international consultation and approved by the appropriate international organisations such as FAO and IMO.
As for the actual training programmes and particularly the training of the instructors of fisheries observers, this could be undertaken by recognised international educational and training institutions in the maritime sector with experience of providing specialised technical education and training for the international maritime community (e.g. World Maritime University (WMU) of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)).
1 The views expressed in this paper are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the European Union.
2 The present document is mainly based upon experience gained within the Common Fisheries Policy (C.F.P.) of the European Union, where the improvement of monitoring and control has become a high priority during the last number of years. This has led to a number of detailed documents analysing the enforcement problems encountered within the C.F.P., suggesting possible solutions, and has led to a number of specific regulations. The reader should refer to these documents (Anon. 1993, Anon. 1998a, 1998b, 1998c) for further details in this regard.
3 Following pilot studies launched in 1994, the European Community decided (in 1996) to move towards the comprehensive use of satellite tracking. Carrying the appropriate equipment will become compulsory after the beginning of the year 2000 for all vessels over 24 m long, and will also apply from July 98 to some specific categories of vessels (i.e. vessels operating in international waters; and vessels conducting industrial fisheries for fishmeal).