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The FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department's activities on responsible fishing operations concern three main areas:

Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS): MCS is a key feature of the fisheries management process. Meaningful integration of MCS measures with fisheries management objectives, legal frameworks, of course penalties and sanctions, are needed in order to achieve a comprehensive programme. The FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department continues to work on improving national MCS capacity and international cooperation through a range of technical meetings, workshops and studies and through contributions to the preparation and implementation of MCS projects and national plans of action on IUU fishing. FAO’s activities on MCS are focused on the following:

  • IUU and Related Activities
  • Port State Measures
  • International Collaboration on MCS/VMS
  • Capacity Building
  • Fishing Vessel Monitoring Systems
  • Fishing Vessel Registration Systems
  • Comprehensive Global Record of Fishing Vessels

Fishing safety: Fishing at sea is probably the most dangerous occupation in the world. Data from those countries that collect accurate accounts show that occupational fatalities in their fishing industries far exceed their national average. FAO advocates the inclusion of safety at sea as an integral part of fisheries management. Measures to improve safety can only be truly effective where the motivation to apply them exists. To establish and maintain such a culture of safety is a never-ending task that demands the participation of the fishermen themselves and their families, the boat-owners, the legislators and the community at large.

  • Development of regional strategies and plans of action
  • Development and implementation of standards for small fishing vessels together with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO)
  • Training of fishermen

Impacts of fishing on the environment: Some fishing operations cause negative impacts on the environment, including loss of biodiversity and damage to critical habitats. There is increasing attention given by the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) to environmental issues such as bycatch, discards and the environmental impact of fishing operations such as shrimp trawling. The Department promotes the use of bycatch reduction technologies; developing guidelines and methodologies for increased utilization of bycatch; assessing the environmental impact of fishing operations; providing technical assistance and monitoring the implementation of the International Plan of Action to Reduce Incidental Catch of Seabirds; and promoting the development of legal management frameworks. FAO is a global organization with the capacity to monitor the impact of fishing on the environment and to address the issue of reducing fisheries discards. In this regard, FAO’s activities are focused on the following:

  • Assessment of the environmental impact of fishing operations
  • Global studies on the development and current status of shrimp trawling
  • Promotion of environment-friendly fishing
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