Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nationsfor a world without hunger
Fisheries and Aquaculture Department
In 1954 the United Nations Statistical Commission decided that fish catches should be assigned to the country of the flag flown by the fishing vessel. This concept was adopted by CWP (and hence its member agencies) and, as a result, any change in this concept would have serious adverse effects on the continuity of catch data. It should be noted that "flag country" generally refers to the country in which the vessel (which may be small and not physically flying a flag) is registered.
However, in recent years national authorities and international agencies have been experiencing difficulties in certain circumstances in assigning a nationality to catches. At each of its sessions since the Ninth (Dartmouth, Canada, August 1977), the CWP has reviewed the concept of the "flag state" and has identified a number of situations (not exclusive) in which difficulties in assigning a nationality might exist:
(a)when a fishing vessel of the flag country transfers, either at sea or in port, the catch, or part of it, to another vessel of a different flag;
(b)when a fishing vessel unloads its catch, or part of it, in a foreign port;
(c)when a vessel flies a flag of convenience, i.e. the country in which the vessel is registered is not the country of the nationality of its owner, or that of the enterprise operating the vessel;
(d)when there is a joint venture, that is, the vessel fishes under a formal contract or agreement between two countries or people, or enterprises of two or more nationalities. Such a situation may also involve cases (a) and/or (b) above.
The CWP is of the opinion that, although there are some difficulties, the flag of the fishing vessel is the best available criterion for the assignment of nationality to catch and landings data and it should continue to be so in the foreseeable future, in order to avoid disruption of data continuity.
As a result of its deliberations, the CWP has revised the wording of its recommendations on nationality, maintaining the principle of the flag country, but elaborating on the recommended procedures to cover the situations arising from cases (a) to (d) above. The concept now reads:
-that the flag of the vessel performing the essential part of the fishing operation catching the fish, should be considered the paramount indication of the nationality assigned to the catch data, and that indication over-ridden only when one of the following arrangements between a foreign flag vessel and the host country exists:
a)the vessel is chartered by the host country to augment its fishing fleet; or
b)the vessel fishes for the country by joint venture contracts or similar agreements (as opposed to the ad-hoc practice of a vessel selling catches to a foreign vessel or landing catches at a foreign port) and the operation of such vessel is an integral part of the economy of the host country;
-that when governments negotiate joint ventures or other contracts in which vessels of one country land their catches at ports of another country, and one of the above-mentioned criteria is applicable, the assignment of nationality to such catches and landings data should be specified in the agreement.