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4.1 Influential factors

There are three groups of factors which may influence decisions respecting the type of MCS system required to meet the needs for fisheries management. These include the geographic, demographic, industry and international profile of the fishery, economic factors, and the political will and commitment related to analysis of the first two groups of factors.

4.1.1 Geographic, demographic, marine industry and international factors

Size of the EEZ and the Fishing Area within the Zone: The area of fishing of both the domestic and foreign fleets will have a significant influence on the design of the MCS system for each country. There will be a significant difference in the situation, and hence the MCS strategy, in the Philippines, where responsibility and authority for the artisanal fisheries (over 400,000 small fishing vessels called “bancas”, with a zone out to 15 km around its 7,000 islands) has been delegated to the municipalities, compared to that for a country such as Equatorial Guinea, with 8,750 artisanal fishers and foreign fishers taking advantage of the State's inability to fund and operate appropriate MCS mechanisms.

The area of active fisheries may also raise control concerns, due to the migration of fish stocks between fishing areas and countries. This can also cause an artisanal versus offshore conflict, if there are incursions of the latter into the small boat fisher's area. This can become critical when the EEZ of a country has only a small rich fishing ground and the fishing pressures from all fishing sectors is intense.

Another consideration in this regard is the size of the various fisheries. If the domestic fishery is small, inshore stocks are strong, and the fishery is not a threat to conservation, then MCS activities can focus on data collection and reasonable control mechanisms required to maintain the health of the fishery. If the offshore fishery is extensive and lucrative, involving either domestic or foreign-owned vessels, then MCS activities to collect data, control the fishery, and patrol the area may require greater effort, to ensure that benefits of the resources are conserved for the State. On the other hand, if the artisanal fishery is overfished and there is growing pressure on the offshore fisheries, with little knowledge of the resource base, then consideration will need to be directed to greater information gathering on the latter and options for re-directing effort from the artisanal to the offshore fisheries in a cost-effective, controlled manner, if this is possible. A key factor in this scenario may be the targeted species, both offshore and inshore, offshore usually being high value species for profit while the artisanal fisheries focus on any fish, often lower value, for survival.

The strategy to establish an MCS system for a foreign fishing zone that is restricted outside 12 or 15 nautical miles is much easier to develop than one in which foreign fishermen are permitted in inshore zones when fishing for certain species. The latter necessitates a verification of fishing catches while the former only requires geographic confirmation. This is one example of the kind of strategic analysis which is required when developing an MCS plan appropriate for the fishery and the enforcement capability of the State.

Further, taking into consideration the above factors regarding the size of the fishing area, it is obvious that a country with a 200 kilometre (km) coastline and a 50 km wide continental shelf does not need the same MCS system as a country with a 1000 km coast and a 200 nautical mile wide shelf. The physical size of the EEZ and the active fisheries area within the zone will have a significant influence on the design of the MCS system. A large zone and fishing area may require air surveillance or other such infrastructure to patrol the areas of concern, whereas a narrow fishing zone might be surveyed cost effectively using other technology, possibly land-based, such as over-the-horizon radar, coast watch systems, or vessel monitoring systems (VMS), coupled with less expensive “no force” strategies. An example of this difference is the comparison of the 209,000 square kilometres of EEZ for Ghana, compared to the 20 million square kilometres of EEZ to be surveyed by the FFA for its member countries. The options for MCS strategies must be considerably different if the systems are to be cost effective and this depends largely on the size and geographical location of the fishing areas within these EEZs, or collective areas of responsibility.

The profile of the fishing fleets, domestic, foreign, artisanal and offshore, is a consideration for the implementation of MCS strategies. The age, condition, size, fishing capacity, gear type and fishing patterns of the vessels will all have an impact on what the State may wish the vessels to do to comply with its MCS policies. These factors may also pre-empt requirements to carry certain equipment, due to the state of the vessel, crewing, current equipment or other such factors which can increase costs to the point that fishing may not be viable, especially for the domestic fleet. On the other hand, there may be a requirement, after noting the profile of the fleets, to establish minimum safety and equipment standards not only for the well being of the fishers, but also to minimize the risk of pollution at sea.

Topography of the coastline: A coastline with several bays, river outlets and important mangrove habitat would require a more complicated MCS scheme to conserve fisheries resources than one with steep rocky cliffs and minimally important habitat. The difficulties for surveillance would also be more complex in the former case, due to the indentations in the coastline which would necessitate a physical presence to survey fishing activity, rather than radar or other, less expensive technology.

Other interests: The importance of tourism, the enhancement of industrial capacity, the requirements for ports and shipping, maritime safety-at-sea and pollution monitoring and controls can all have an impact on the strategy developed for fisheries management, with consequent repercussions on the MCS system adopted. There will be a requirement for discussion and liaison with appropriate ministries to ensure that government priorities are met and, in so far as possible, fisheries requirements and benefits to society are recognized and respected. Fisheries management priorities will often seem to conflict with priorities from tourism, industry, and marine transportation initiatives. It must be realized however, that the sustainable benefits of each of these industries, and the economic and employment situation for the State, will benefit from appropriate attention to, and conservation of, marine resources. There will be a need for a mechanism for discussion and resolution of differences in approaches and priorities for each of these important industries.

International pressures: International pressures from distant from water fishing nations (DWFNs) and the short term economic benefits of foreign currency cash flow can be attractive to states that do not have fully developed fisheries, but often with the consequence of non-sustainable exploitation of their fisheries resources. DWFNs have their own difficult situations of over-capacity and recession in their economies and fishing industries which they have been trying to address. These countries may, in the past, have been be less appreciative of, or sensitive to, the negative impact of some of their agreements with the developing nations. On the other hand, it would have been unreasonable to expect that these fleets would negotiate an agreement which would have had them operating at a financial loss. Consequently, these agreements have in the past, unfortunately, been to the detriment of the conservation goals of coastal states, which did not, and still do not, have the economic flexibility to ensure the implementation of appropriate MCS systems to conserve their fisheries resources. Often, the only protection against uncontrolled overfishing and lack of compliance with regulatory measures due to shortages in resources and training, is through strong co-operation on a bilateral, sub-regional and regional basis with regard to MCS activities. Cooperative efforts can result in economic and international pressures against noncompliance with internationally respected, conservation principles which would not otherwise be achievable on a single state basis. The potential for the establishment of international standards and guidelines is greater in this forum of international and regional cooperation. Examples include the aforementioned initiatives such as; the flagging agreement, Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishing, port state control and the control of fishing for highly migratory species and straddling stocks.

In recognition of the rights and interests of all States under the Convention on the Law of the Sea, developing countries must address their obligations to deal with conservation concerns and, at the same time, international fishing partners must ensure compliance with national fisheries legislation and international conventions dealing with fisheries in the name of conservation.

One particular note of special pertinence today, is the economic temptation to register DWFN vessels in national registers when there is no capability to control the activities of the “new flag” vessels. Some of these “new flag” vessels operate with short term immediate interests in internationally sensitive areas of the world and without appropriate attention ot conservation. This brings international pressure on the flag State with respect to its credibility and commitment to internationally accepted fisheries conservation and principles and to the implementation of the Convention. Registration of these vessels should be avoided.

Involvement of fishers, communities, organizations, cooperatives, unions and fishing companies: It should be self-evident that the cooperation of the fishing industry and fishers is essential to cost effective fisheries management. If the industry, fishers and their communities and organizations actively participate, and are recognized as real participants, in fisheries management, MCS planning and related activities, there is a much greater potential for successful implementation of these plans, to the benefit of all. On the contrary, if the opposite transpires, it will be extremely expensive and very difficult to successfully implement any fisheries management plans. Lack of recognition, input, involvement and understanding of the principles and rationale behind the proclaimed fisheries management scheme has often resulted in non-compliance, alienation of the fisheries department officials and active subversion of the intended plan, thereby placing much more pressure on the need for surveillance. Most fishers wish to conserve the resources and will support such initiatives if the efforts are reasonable, enforceable and understandable.

MCS operations directed towards education and seeking input from fishers are facilitated if there are strong fishers' or community organizations in place to discuss these issues. The independence of fishers is well known, consequently there is often a reluctance for fishers to join together for these types of discussions. Assistance to fishers in getting them to recognize and accept the advantages of having a collective voice is one of the challenges of fisheries educational initiatives in seeking input and support for MCS activities.

Demographics of the domestic fishery: Other issues may impact the type of MCS strategy to be adopted to ensure the continued health of fisheries, especially the domestic fishery. One such example is in the Seychelles, where the demography of the fishery is such that the average age of fishers is very high, as other employment opportunities appear more appealing and lucrative to the younger population. This creates several unique challenges for the State to re-kindle an interest in fishing as a profession and to build a controlled fishery using Seychellois, instead of other international fishers. This also presents an opportunity to educate the new fishers in the benefits of fisheries conservation. Alternatively, if young Seychellois are not encouraged into the fishery, the MCS system design will need to focus on the possibility of an increase in foreign offshore fisheries.

4.1.2 Economic factors

Contribution of fisheries to the GNP

It is obvious that the contribution of the fishery to the national economy will determine its profile and the importance placed on fisheries management activities. It makes economic sense, however, that the benefits from the resources exceed the cost of their conservation. As seen in the Seychelles, the potential contribution to the national economy by the displacement of international fisheries with a corresponding increase in domestic fishers, or other offshore fishing arrangements, could enhance the current situation. The GNP factor will likely have a significant effect on both the scale and the design of an MCS strategy.

Foreign currency earnings

A factor of considerable importance to several developing states is the earning of foreign currency by permitting international access to the fishery. It is very unfortunate that certain distant water fishing fleets have exploited this need in a strict business sense, to meet their own financial and employment requirements, without due consideration for conservation, or reasonable returns, for the coastal States. In the case of a developing country, where trained resources and infrastructure are not available to ensure the implementation of adequate MCS strategies, this can become a serious problem in the conservation of their fisheries resources. This is sometimes further complicated with the offer of external financial incentives to subvert any MCS efforts that the State may wish to impose. Governments, both developing and developed, must ensure that the fishing opportunities granted for both domestic and foreign fleets result in appropriate levels of compensation, and that these funds benefit the State.

Employment opportunities

The employment opportunities which can result from enhancing the fishing potential of the coastal State are also a factor in the consideration of the MCS strategy. In a situation where there are seen to be advantages in the long term of displacement of international fishing fleets, this may require training of coastal or island State nationals who will eventually assume these fishing rights. Training of nationals could therefore be a component of the access agreement with third party fishing fleets.

The demonstration of an increase in benefits to the individual fishers, either as increases in income, or employment opportunities, will have a positive impact on the national economy, the strength of the fishing sector and support for government fisheries policies.

Linked with the above strategy of training of nationals could be the opportunity to ensure the implementation of appropriate safety-at-sea equipment and practices in accordance with the coming into force of the Protocol to the Torremolinos Convention 1977. This Protocol will bring fishing vessels under port State control with respect to safety certificates and early attention to this point can result in economies for future training. This initiative can also link to the development of a Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishing resulting in a new attitude and blend of fishers with conservation and safety high on their list of priorities.

Benefits to other ocean users

Recognizing that MCS should conserve fisheries resources and their habitats, there may be mutual benefits for other ocean users as well as the fishers, if appropriate liaison between these users and the fisheries department and relevant MCS strategies can be developed. For example, careful assessment and control of tourism development, assurance of non-destructive fishing practices, development of marine parks, use of mooring buoys to reduce the damage to coral reefs from ad hoc anchoring, etc. can all benefit both fishers and other ocean users. MCS strategies can be developed to include consideration for such activities.

Small island States are realizing the negative impact of excessive use of pesticides and the marine pollution resulting from uncontrolled industrial development. It is being noted that all land based activities on small islands eventually influence the marine environment and they have the potential to kill the very marine resources and habitat, including the coral reefs, which bring the tourists and foreign currency to the State.

On a positive note, Belize, in Central America, has been attempting to regulate tourism, the development of marine parks, and the fisheries, and has established appropriate surveillance initiatives to ensure the implementation of the required management plans.

Other secondary benefits from MCS activities outside of fisheries activities can also be factors in establishing the type and structure of an MCS system. MCS activities can also assist in addressing safety-at-sea for national and international seafarers and marine pollution, environmental matters.

Low cost protein

A further economic factor to be considered in the design of an MCS system is the requirement of the State for protein for its citizens. The MCS design can include the requirement for a percentage discharge of fisheries products in the coastal State for distribution, processing or further export. This could result in the direct provision of protein for the people, or enhance industry development in the fish processing sector and have resultant positive impacts on export earnings for the procurement of this protein.

Regional mechanisms of potential support

The ultimate influencing factor on design will be cost. Can a State rationalize the cost of the MCS system desired? Economic logic suggests that no state should expend greater funds on conservation than the potential economic benefits that can be gained by such activities. It is often the cost factor that influences the country to seek sub-regional and regional initiatives to meet MCS requirements in the oceans sector. This is significantly viable, especially where fish stocks are shared, language barriers are not an influencing factor, maritime jurisdictions are adjacent, boundary delimitations have been resolved and political thrusts are synonymous. The cost saving of cooperation in the implementation of MCS operations has been demonstrated in the successful regional fisheries programmes in place today in the South Pacific and the Caribbean Basin. The FAO “flagging agreement” and “port State control” initiatives are mechanisms which also draw on the regional and international co-operative approach and consequently, merit consideration by developing States.

Regional cooperation is not without its own problems, however, especially where the aforementioned factors are not complimentary. Many lessons can be learned from other international fisheries organizations such as the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO), the European Union, the Indo-Pacific Fisheries Commission (IPFC) and the Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission (IOFC).

4.1.3 Political will and commitment

The key behind any ocean policy, planning and management system, including that for fisheries, is the degree of political will and commitment to implement such a system. The following includes some of the factors which may form the base for decisions on the structure of the MCS system to be developed.

The economic profile, or potential thereof, of the fishery in the national economy will undoubtedly determine the level of support the MCS initiatives will receive from the government. A potentially lucrative domestic fishery, and the MCS activities required to protect it, will probably receive significant government attention. Nevertheless, it will be necessary to balance the long term benefits with the short and medium term benefits to maintain the political support which is key to the successful development and implementation of MCS systems. Some of these could include the establishment of a database for resource management, revenue from resource users through license fees and greater control of the resources from licensing and surveillance, which conserve fish stocks and hence, increase incomes of the fishers. It must be emphasized that the political will and commitment of the country is the key factor in the successful design and implementation of MCS systems for fisheries.

This set of influential factors and their relative importance to the political objectives of a country make fisheries management and the resultant MCS strategy unique to each country. Key observations from reviews of successful national and regional MCS include:

  1. There are no [universally acceptable] models and each system [in operation] is in fact, adapted to the cultural, geographic, political and legal framework of the country or region.

  2. The operational character of the system will depend on management decisions made.

  3. The legal and policy considerations are always taken into account when esablishing an MCS system.

  4. The decision making power is always in the hands of the civilians, even on surveillance matters.

  5. The national and regional MCS are complementary to each other.5

After assessing the geographic, demographic, economic and political aspects of the fisheries, one should reflect on those aspects which relate directly to the design and implementation of an appropriate MCS system. These include questions regarding the most cost–effective and efficient system for the State, the legal framework required and acceptable to the fishers, coordination of ministries, training, infrastructure, organizational support mechanisms, and funding sources. The following section highlights these points, with examples of options which have proved effective in the past.

5 Bonucci. Nicola (1992) GCP/INT/NOR Field Report 92/22 (En)

4.2 Organizational considerations

4.2.1 National, sub-regional and regional structures

A growing trend over the past several years has been the formation of groups of countries with common political and economic interests. An enhanced awareness of the environment and the requirement for the conservation of natural resources has brought recent activity and interest in the formation of associations and international agreements along regional lines. Again lessons can be learned from the existing international fisheries organizations noted earlier in this document including the South Pacific Forum, NAFO, OECS, the European Union and others.

The rich resource base in many developing countries, their less than favourable economic situation and inability to protect these resources and the desire of the international fishing industry to gain access to these resources, all emphasize the need for cooperation amongst developing fishing nations. There are proven cost savings which can be experienced through cooperation with respect to acquisition of MCS resources, training, and negotiating from a larger power bloc for reasonable compensation in return for access to underutilized resources. The international exchange of appropriate fisheries data for MCS and fisheries management purposes, harmonized legislation, extradition and port State agreements are all benefits which should encourage international affiliations within regional developing countries.

The decision with respect to establishing an MCS system on other than a national basis does, however, depend on several factors. These include whether there is an existing organization which will serve the purpose, whether there is the international political will of states in the area, common interests in fisheries which would benefit from such a liaison, common language and cultural ties, and whether differences can be overcome. The security of what may be considered as sensitive data and the potential to resolve internal concerns to present a common face to the outside world are all additional considerations which impact on this decision regarding international fisheries and MCS cooperation. Finally, the difference in economic situations of possible member countries and the cost sharing arrangements for support to an international organization are also critical factors to be addressed. Each country must balance their own advantages and disadvantages prior to making a commitment to regional cooperation.

It should be noted that, despite difficulties experienced in the past with such regional cooperation, there are examples which have demonstrated that concerns can be addressed and the resultant efforts have proven advantageous to member states of such organizations. Probably the most advanced of such organizations in the developing world is the South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency, with sixteen members, in its second decade of cooperative fisheries management. Another example is the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States Fisheries Unit (involving eight countries), a sub-regional organization in the Caribbean Basin. A sub-regional initiative is commencing in the Indian Ocean through the Seychelles which will link with the regional tuna research programme in Sri Lanka. Efforts of the CARICOM Fisheries Resource Assessment and Management Programme (twelve countries in the Caribbean) is another example with considerable potential for success under CARICOM management. Efforts in East Asia with fisheries management and MCS are well advanced and recently, operational manuals have been developed. These organizations can provide additional information for the consideration future MCS strategies.

4.2.2 Roles and responsibilities

A decision with respect to international cooperation will not abrogate the State from its responsibility to establish appropriate structures internally to address fisheries MCS issues. As an MCS system is developed, it is expected that there will be interest from ministries other than fisheries for access and input into the priorities and tasking of the resoures. The ministries responsible for environment, national defense and coast guard, customs and immigration are a few which can be expected. It has been noted that MCS surveillance resources are expensive and that multitasking could be cost effective and efficient. Experience has noted however, that too many priorities can result in the acquisition of capital equipment which does not meet any function appropriately, consequently, it is suggested that for fisheries MCS activities, coordination be with other ministries with fisheries-related interests, such as coastal zone management and the marine environment. There is also a very real requirement to recognize that the ministry, or department, with a considerable stake and interest in conservation and sustainable use of ocean resources and their habitat, is fisheries. There is also a need in any operation to ensure that there is one lead agency with the appropriate authority to make decisions. Although there are several ministries with interest in MCS and, consequently, there may be a need for a coordinating committee, there still needs to be one final authority for decisions on the deployment and priorities for MCS operations. Split operational “command and control”, to use military phraseology, have not met with success in the past in military or civilian operations. It is recommended that the fisheries department be provided with the lead role and ultimate authority for ocean sector MCS activities, in consultation with other interested departments and ministries.

If this is not acceptable to governments, an alternative could be an alternating chair for the coordinating committee, but this is a less preferred option. It is always preferable for fisheries managers to have to report to only one superior to maximize efficiency in operational MCS activities. This role and authority, whichever strategy is selected, should be formalized in legislation to establish clarity in the event of prosecutions.

4.2.3 Core infrastructure requirements

It is impossible to make concrete suggestions which would quantify the MCS requirements of each situation, as they will be different for each system. It is possible, however, to make suggestions on core requirements and to leave the quantification to each Fisheries Administrator. For example, the monitoring component of MCS would be best served through the receipt of information from the licensing unit, sea going units for sea sightings and inspections, port inspections and air sightings for vessel identification, activity and location. These seemingly simple tasks will require a data network and communications system. The system can also include data on the fishers licenses, fishing gear, types of vessels, fishing patterns, fishers and community profiles with respect to dependency and earnings from fishing and any other fisheries management information required. These data can be used for verification of licensing conditions, catch and effort for resource assessment and sustainable fisheries management planning for the future. The accumulation of data will require a storage and analysis capability which, although it can be manual, is best achieved with computers. It will be necessary to determine the number of entry points for data and to establish a network capability so the resultant analyses can be redistributed to all fisheries offices. This means offices in major fisheries landing points, collection schemes for sea, land and air data, and a central office for analysis, distribution and operational decision-making.

The control component of MCS will necessitate the determination of appropriate and enforceable legislation required to implement the fisheries plans for the various fisheries. It will address the authorities of fisheries personnel, legal fishing activities, minimum terms and conditions for fishing, and penalties for non-compliance. The minimum conditions which a State may wish to implement could include vessel identification, catch and reporting requirements, conditions for transhipment, standard catch and effort log sheets, terms and living conditions for observers, local agents for international fishing partners, and flag State responsibility for their vessels.6 The control component will link with the State's justice department and also necessitate the appropriate training of all personnel involved in enforcing the legislation, including sessions where the assistance and advice of the judiciary is requested. The infrastructure requirement for this component of fisheries MCS is a team of knowledgeable fisheries lawyers for both drafting of enforceable and appropriate legislation, and also for the legal follow-up which may be required to implement these laws. This component will also establish the various mechanisms, strategies and policies for the implementation of operations (MCS activities) to implement the fisheries management plans.

The surveillance component of MCS will require fisheries personnel who not only collect data for the monitoring aspect of MCS during their surveillance duties, but also have the appropriate equipment, operating funds and training to enforce the legislative mechanisms of fisheries management. These personnel will require direction and infrastructure from which to operate, be it land, sea or air facilities. This is the enforcement component of fisheries MCS and as such is usually the largest and most expensive activity to fund. It must be remembered that for international MCS activities, there is a requirement under the Convention on the Law of the Sea that all surveillance equipment be clearly marked and identifiable as on government service.

Article 111

Right of hot pursuit

5. The right of hot pursuit may be exercised only by warships or military aircraft, or other ships or aircraft clearly marked and identifiable as being on government service and authorized to that effect.

6 FFA Report 93/55 (1993)

This requirement is often addressed through large, highly visible, government markings on all surveillance equipment. This is often supplemented on sea-going vessels by a fisheries flag which also denotes government surveillance on fisheries duties. The design and use of the flag should be clearly stated in the fisheries legislation. All fisheries vessels, regardless of size, should fly this flag while on fisheries duties.

Equipment requirements include the following, noting that it could be more cost effective if they were shared with other enforcement agencies involved in fisheries and oceans-related MCS operations:

National headquarters

A central headquarters near the departmental decision makers for the coordination of fisheries operations. This headquarters, as well as having the offices for the administration of fisheries, would, ideally, be situated adjacent the operations room.

A central operations room where the current status of the fishing operations can be shown through maps, plots and computer enhancement is recommended. This centre would need offices and personnel, with communications to appropriate field offices and other enforcement agencies, and direct communications to the minister responsible for fisheries. This becomes the situation briefing and de-briefing room when a sensitive fisheries matter arises. The Fisheries Administrator should thus have the capability, through the equipment and information accessed from this centre, to show the situation to decision makers and obtain direction for timely responsive action. These centres can be staffed by as few as two persons trained in communications, computer access and display techniques.

The communications system would ideally have telephone and appropriate radio communications to all fisheries centres and mobile platforms in the field for both safety and control of operations. Some MCS systems also use satellite communications in their networks, but it is very expensive. The modern HF radio systems on the market today could possibly assist in keeping costs to a minimum without losing effectiveness.

The computer data system for licensing and vessel registration, if it is decided to use such a system for this basic information, is now affordable. There are several licensing and vessel registration systems in use today and it will be a decision of the Fisheries Administrator as to the system which will best meet the State's needs.7

It is anticipated that the procurement of other major MCS equipment will be coordinated from the central headquarters. The air surveillance requirements for MCS may appear expensive, but are still seen as the cheapest method to receive rapid surveillance information with respect to fishing and fish habitat information in the zone. As a minimum, the following equipment is recommended. It is highly desirable to have a twin engine turbo prop aircraft for over-sea flights for safety, endurance and low maintenance costs. As a minimum, this aircraft should have radio communication to base and directly to sea-going fisheries patrol vessels, with common marine frequencies. The navigation system of the aircraft will need to be accurate, for it will form the base for prosecution of area infractions if they proceed to court. It would be desirable to have an endurance capability of 4-6 hours at economical speed. The speed for transit should be reasonable to maximize the time in the assigned patrol area, but the aircraft should be able to go slowly enough at low levels to identify and photograph fishing vessels. Photographic equipment for the recording of vessel activities is necessary.

7 CFRAMP in the Caribbean, spent considerable effort and cost in designing a very flexible computer licensing and vessel registration system for PC computers to meet the varying needs of the twelve participating, developing countries while preserving the core data for each system. CARICOM, in Guyana, has the intellectual property rights for this system.

More expensive air surveillance platforms are available. Additional equipment could include navigational equipment which can merge with the photographic evidence for court purposes. Night lights and instruments for IFR (Instrument Flight Rating) flights are very desirable for surveillance purposes. Onboard computers linked to accurate navigation systems, communications systems, radar and photographic systems, and the capability to accommodate vessel monitoring systems, would result in a very technologically advanced air surveillance platform. This would however, be an expensive operational tool which might be inappropriate for budgets of developing countries. The expense could possibly be easier to accommodate through regional cooperation and shared use of the air surveillance equipment.

The choice and equipping of the aircraft will be dependent upon the cost of the airframe and the ongoing costs of operation and maintenance. These latter two factors are often lost in the considerations for air surveillance, but they are the most significant costs for the MCS air activities. Aircraft can cost from a few hundred to several thousands of dollars per air hour depending on the configuration of the craft and equipment. If at all possible, it is highly desirable to ensure that there is local access to appropriate training and equipment to permit long term maintenance of the aircraft.

The sea-going requirements will vary considerably between countries, depending on the MCS strategy. The primary consideration when considering the acquisition or use of patrol vessels should be cost-effectiveness and affordability for the primary task, fisheries surveillance. One golden rule for cost effectiveness is that the fisheries patrol vessels should have at least the same sea keeping capability as the fleet which they are monitoring. There may be a temptation to procure fast, expensive vessels; however, it must be remembered that the purpose of these vessels is to transport the authorized fisheries officials to the fishing vessel for inspection. Although desirable for a quick transit to the patrol zone, this capability must be balanced against the high fuel and maintenance costs for such machinery. There may be a requirement to be able to overtake a departing vessel where there are no other diplomatic arrangements in place, but this capability should not overshadow the need for staying at sea and cost effectiveness on a daily basis. Fast patrol vessels have a tendency, no matter how well trained the operator, to operate at near top speed making them expensive in fuel and maintenance, with long down times due to equipment wear and repairs. Economic considerations may also make vessel charters a viable option instead of purchases. In this manner maintenance becomes the concern of the contracting firm and not the government.

Coastal and nearshore vessels do not need to stay at sea for prolonged periods and, consequently, smaller patrol vessels with one or two days sea keeping capability, or rapid response shore-based craft, might serve the purpose in this latter case. These vessels would be best equipped with radar and communications systems. The latter should include both marine radios and an additional one to communicate with the air surveillance platforms. Equipment for boarding and an appropriate boarding craft are recommended. Most countries have found the fibreglass, V-hulled, rubber-sided, speed boat (Lucas and Avon types being popular) to be most effective for boarding. The boarding boat should have two outboard engines, or one inboard/outboard and a small outboard engine, for safety. The boarding boat requires communication equipment to remain in contact with the patrol vessel at all times.

The offshore fishery will require the largest, and hence the most expensive, sea-going platforms in the infrastructure for fisheries MCS. These vessels can range from deep hulled trawler type vessels to offshore oil supply vessels with helicopter landing facilities. The key in the choice is, again, the capital cost for the vessel and equipment and, equally important, the operating and maintenance costs. Large vessels, by their very nature, require considerable fuel and provisions to operate for extended periods at sea. It has been recommended that wherever possible the management strategy attempt to keep the need for these expensive seagoing platforms to a minimum, but it must be realized that they are necessary for most traditional fisheries management schemes. Most offshore vessels for fisheries would best be equipped with twin diesels of a dependable model, with trained engineers, up-to-date navigation equipment, radar, photography equipment and radio communications. The latter should be at least as per the inshore patrol vessel, preferably with back-up systems and ideally, linkages to the air surveillance platforms. These vessels are intended as boarding platforms and their regular duties should not require them to be heavily armed assault vessels. As noted earlier, their first role is as boarding platforms for the fisheries officer.

Field offices

This category includes area and regional offices within the country. Similar principles apply for larger international regional organizations.

Office space is required for the field staff and their supporting administration. The office should be equipped with communications equipment to maintain contact with the headquarters and also to maintain communication with staff while on patrol. A radio communication network is usually sufficient for these activities. The office also requires the capability to collect and transmit data to other offices for compilation and analysis and also, to receive results for the planning of operations. Ideally, this capability can be achieved through a computer system with communication to these other offices. Transportation is required for staff for patrol purposes, either along the coast, at sea or by land, and also along the rivers and lakes where there are active fishing operations. This transportation can range from small boarding type craft, to motorcycles, to other types of vehicles. It is highly recommended that staff patrol in pairs for safety and personal security.

It is assumed that the Fisheries Administrator will ensure that each field office has in its reference library certain documents for assistance in their duties. These include:

Each officer should have in their possession, at all times, pictured documentation which clearly identifies the individual as a government authorized fisheries officer. This requirement should also be in the fisheries legislation. Each officer requires communications equipment to maintain contact with their base of operations. Each officer must have the appropriate accoutrements to record findings during the patrol; e.g., a patrol book with clear identification of the owner and sequentially numbered pages. This notebook could be used in court proceedings for identification of events and as an aide memoir for the officer. It is essential that it is properly maintained. This latter point is addressed in training for officers, noted in Annex D.

A final item for careful consideration is the provision of firearms to staff. There are several considerations with respect to this matter but in general firearms, if they can be avoided, are not recommended for fisheries MCS. However, it is recognized that there are situations when it would be considered very dangerous for fisheries officials to conduct their business without adequate personal protection. These include the proclivity of firearms use in the country, in the fishing industry, and levels of illegal activity throughout the industry and at sea. It is also important to assess compliance trends in the fishing industry and the history of difficulties with fishers, both domestic and foreign, regarding the protection of fisheries staff. Where fisheries have become incontrolled and unmanageable, it has been found that fishers resort to other, less desireable and violent activites, thus making the protection of fisheries MCS staff a priority requirement. Where possible however, other means of protection, such as guard dogs or batons for land based fisheries personnel, are urged. The issuance, carriage and use of firearms should be considered or as a tool for staff protection only; it is not recommended that firearms be considered or used as an aggressive surveillance tactic.

If it is therefore decided that firearms will be issued to staff, new considerations apply. The first of these is the appropriateness of the designated individuals for the carriage of the weapons. Not all persons are mentally suitable to carry and use firearms. The Canadian experience in fisheries recognized this fact and now a battery of psychological tests, as part of the selection process, are used to screen applicants for their suitability to carry firearms. Those found not suitable are released from further recruitment testing. The danger in putting weapons in the wrong hands in terms of potential accidents can be significant and result in legal liability of the Department. The second major consideration is the initial training and the need for ongoing refresher training (at least annually). This is critical for the confidence of the staff in the proper use of the weapon and their own personal safety.

8 Coventry, R.J., paraphrased from the South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency Fisheries Prosecution Manual.

The decision on arming vessels for fisheries enforcement purposes is one which should not be taken lightly. It is a conscious decision to arm the vessel both for protection, and potential aggressive action. This decision may be necessary where fishing vessels commonly do not comply with the orders to halt for fisheries inspections. This scenario may result if no other enforcement strategies or agreements to ensure compliance have been established with the flag State of the vessel and diplomatic relations to address the situation are not available or have failed. In this case it may be the government's policy to permit aggressive, civil police action to apprehend the alleged offender. The matter of consequence here is the use of aggressive force. Legally, this force should be limited to that necessary to ensure compliance with the legal authorities, in this case the fisheries officer, or for portection of staff as appropriate. The amount of force that is deemed appropriate is always one of subjectivity, but excessive force may result in a case, if it goes to court, not being supported. It is suggested, therefore, that in the case of action involving the use of firepower, there be strict standards of application for the escalation of the use of force, from verbal warnings, through earning shots, to the use of force to physically stop the vessel; i.e., stop or potentially, sink the vessel. This action also includes the assumption that the boarding vessel is appropriately identified in accordance with the obligations under the Convention and that verbal identification has also been passed to the vessel being boarded. Countries should ensure that appropriate higher authorities are involved in the decisions to escalate the use of force. The use of force for protection when fired upon always remains with the master of the vessel to protect the ship and crew. The use of firearms by a fisher against a fisheries official or vessel, noting the identification above, should be responded in kind, with the maximum use of force directed at the source of firing.

It must be remembered that MCS surveillance is essentially a civilian police action, and not an aggressive military exercise hence, the use of military forces for fisheries MCS is recommended only for extreme cases.

This section has been presented to encourage reflection on the initial decisions regarding equipment to implement the MCS operational plan. The sum total is a requirement for a central control facility, a data system and network to the coastal areas and offices, offices along the coast for data collection and surveillance, communications and data collection facilities, appropriate transport equipment, land, sea and air platforms, and other safety equipment for surveillance operations. The requirement for appropriately trained directors, supervisors, and field personnel is assumed to be a central component of MCS.

4.2.4 Staffing

The requirements for MCS include personnel to address each of the components of monitoring, control and surveillance. The numbers of these personnel will vary with the MCS scheme in place, but basic requirements for the qualifications of these persons should remain fairly constant. These personnel need varied levels of expertise; for example, data collectors need to be literate, have good interpersonal skills and knowledge of the fishery and its policies and procedures. Sea-going experience is crucial to fisheries MCS, especially for sea operations. These individuals are often at the technician level. Observers for offshore vessels also fall into this category of staff. It must be noted here that the observer scheme is only appropriate if capable, honest and dedicated personnel are available, preferably with offshore sea experience. In many countries, close supervision is also necessary for this scheme to be productive due to the onboard pressures placed on these individuals. If these factors cannot be met, consideration for the implementation of an observer programme is inappropriate. Further points on this initiative are presented in the annex on observers.

The ability to analyze the data collected for fisheries management decisions and operational deployments requires a higher level of knowledge and competence, both academic and practical.

The control component requires individuals with comprehensive and very good knowledge of fisheries and the law. These individuals would work with the lawyer assigned from the Ministry of Justice for the design of enforceable laws and also for the internal decisions regarding MCS operations.

Finally, there is the need for surveillance personnel. This includes personnel to operate small and large patrol vessels. Further, aircraft personnel will be required, as will the every day fisheries officials at the junior and more senior levels for coastal, river and lake patrols, management of the offices and liaison with the fishers. The sea-going surveillance personnel should be recruited from fishing communities, where appropriate personnel can be found. The air surveillance personnel can possibly be seconded from the military, or possibly local airlines to minimize training requirements. Support personnel will also be required from local staffing pools. Maintenance personnel for equipment will need to have experience, or be trained, on the equipment provided. The training for fisheries technicians and officers is key to ensuring competent staff for the implementation of fisheries plans. This topic is addressed later in this publication in the annexes.

4.2.5 Financial considerations

There can be a tendency when considering a new system to look for the most advanced technology which can do the work required. This is usually also the most expensive equipment on the market. Keeping in mind the economic logic that the overall expense of a conservation system should not exceed the benefits gained from the fishery, then it is more prudent, especially in the current economic climate, to look forappropriate and affordable technology for each fishery situation.

Cost effective data collection and verification

The requirements for data collection, and verification, usually include information on the fishers, their fishing vessels and gear, their individual and community dependence and returns from the fishery and hence, the period, quantity and value of their landings. Further information on the area of capture and the size, weight and age of the fish are also beneficial for fish stock assessment modelling and stock predictions, despite their inaccuracies. It could follow then that the most cost effective strategy would be to have data collectors in each, or many, of the large fishing communities. It could also follow, that any strategy which falls outside these basic parameters for data collection should receive their funding from other than government sources, or, if these are at the request of the fishing industry, then the industry should bear the cost, especially if can afford to do so.

The initial data collection task is a complete census of fishers. One cost effective strategy suggested is to use inter-agency resources to collect this data when the regular census of the population is taken. This can assist in providing basic, and later, updated information where this is needed.

The key role of the data collector, following the establishment of the data base, is the verification of the fish caught and that fish which is landed with additional information on the area of capture, size, age and sex of the catch. The updating of the initial data base can often be accomplished during regular data collection activities. Some states use personnel on a part-time basis for both data collection and enforcement, but this has conflict of interest difficulties where fishers may believe that the only reason personnel are collecting data is to “catch them” in non-compliant activities. This can lead to falsification of the data provided. Many countries already have extension officers, and community development officers from one ministry or another and these personnel can provide a wealth of information if it is channelled, or accessible, to the fisheries database. Data collection reliability is often enhanced when the individual collecting the data is known and respected in the community. The data being collected are, after all, personal information on catches, fishing areas and income, all which can be interpreted as being sensitive to the fishers. The confidentiality of individual data must be assured throughout this exercise.


One example of a low cost method to gain information, if the fisheries are close to the coast, has been used successfully in New Zealand and some of the countries in the South Pacific. This involves the deployment of part-time coast watchers at a minimal cost to the State and the price of binoculars and a radio. The concentration of fishing around the coast is easily determined using these part-time personnel.

The key to ensuring quality information from the domestic fishers is to maintain credibility and close contact with them in their communities. This contact will also assist when seeking their ideas and support for new management measures.


There are several options for the offshore portion of fisheries MCS. These depend on the value of the fisheries to both domestic and international fishers. Under the Convention on the Law of the Sea, the coastal State may establish the terms of fishing resources surplus to its current harvesting capacity. This includes a potential resource rent for the opportunity of fishing in the zone. This rent must be reasonable, but it can also be used to offset some of the costs of enforcement.

Port options

There may be several options to survey offshore fisheries activities. For example, it may be safer and more cost-effective to conduct inspections and transhipment of fish in port rather than at sea. Where possible, maximum use of port surveillance and inspection activities are encouraged as these can be very cost-effective and cheaper than at-sea inspections. It must be recognized that at-sea surveilance will still be a necessary component of most fisheries regimes.

Fisheries management strategy

One theoretical scenario of cost effectiveness could be a fisheries management scheme based strictly on effort and area controls, instead of quotas by species which wander all over the zone. The effort limitations would be established from catch rates in the past applied to each fishery. These could be verified through information provided on the landing of the fish. In this case, the surveillance aspect would be greatly facilitated by being based on vessel sightings and effort monitoring instead of hands-on inspection of the vessels at sea to determine their catches. This suggestion, although ideal for surveillance, may be a bit impractical in terms of optimum utilization of the resources, e.g. combined fisheries in one area where the total for one species has been taken, but not that for the second fishery. It could possibly be an option for a single precies fishery. The idea has been presented to suggest innovative thinking for fisheries management options.

Using the principle of least cost to the State, however, if the fishing industry wishes to control the fishery by quota management instead of effort control, they might be encouraged, as part of the resource rent, to shoulder, or share the additional costs which may be incurred with such a system. Perhaps a combination of these principles could be effective if the fishing partner were willing to assume additional costs for surveillance to offset air coverage, observers or at-sea inspection costs for management schemes which they prefer tp have implemented. This inter-active management style would require a high degree of input and the acceptance of responsibility by the fishers for the conservation of the marine resources. In many cases it would require a complete change in attitude, consequently, it is a longer term strategy which one can consider for implementation with education of the next generation of fishers.

On the issue of quota controls, these have been found to be effective only if there is a timely acquisition of accurate catch data, including discarded and dumped fish that has been removed from the resource base. The acquisition of these data is also helpful for stock assessment, but it requires at-sea observations and inspections for quality control of the data being collected. This latter requirement is an expensive undertaking. It is, however, one rationale for fishers to assume the total costs of observer coverage, if quota control is the strategy they support for fisheries management.

A significant cost to the State is the establishment of a data collection system and analytical capability. There are several examples of fisheries information systems available, with cost effective regional systems being used in the South Pacific through the Pacific Forum network and in the Caribbean, through the new CFRAMP system. Several developed countries and international agencies can also provide ample examples and assistance in the custom development of appropriate systems.



Fisheries legislation forms a major component of the control aspect of fisheries MCS. The fisheries management plan is transferred from theoretical ideas to legal requirements which form the base for the MCS operations, through the drafting and passage of fisheries law. It is at this juncture that fisheries managers, MCS officials and lawyers can assess the enforceability and cost of their management schemes. Common concerns expressed by MCS personnel all over the world are that the written law is often untimely, it no longer reflects the full intent of the management plan, it is overly complex, unenforceable and consequently, expensive to attempt to implement. The latter impacts on the credibility of fisheries officials in the eyes of their clients, the fishers. Cost effectiveness can be enhanced for this component if there is coordination and cooperation between the fisheries administration and legal drafters. This is an investment in time and greatly facilitates implementation of the final product for the benefit of the State. It also serves to strengthen the knowledge and capability of the legal authorities in fisheries resource management, a potential benefit to the development of other resource management legislation. It falls on the fisheries administration to foster this linkage with the justice department.

The internal policy decisions in the control phase of fisheries management relate to the strategy for implementation of the MCS operations and will be different for each fishery and state.


One of the most important tools of fisheries management, which is often overlooked, is the privilege to fish, the fisher's license. This document is one of the most powerful documents in fisheries MCS, for it provides the fishers with the privilege to harvest an important resource, but it also sets the terms and conditions under which they may do so. The license can be used to provide all the base data regarding fisheries activities in the zone. It can require appropriate reports on fishing gear, activities in terms of time, location and catches, and can also require cooperation in fisheries management objectives. Further, it is the main tool which will serve to obtain the resource rent for the privilege of fishing in the State's waters. It can be the tool which establishes controls on an otherwise uncontrolled, open access fishery to meet the State's obligations under the Convention while minimizing the cost to the resource owners, the taxpayers. It can also be used to offset funding requirements for additional surveillance measures. The supporting legislation which makes the license so important is the legal right of the State to grant or remove this privilege and to exact sanctions for non-compliance. The license therefore contributes to the monitoring component of MCS through the requirement for base, and operational, data. It is the legal instrument for the control of the fishery and is key to the implementation of fisheries management plans.

Resource rent

The principle of “keeping it simple” is a concept to keep in the foreground in the surveillance component of MCS. The current times of fiscal restraint make this even more applicable today. Using this line of thought, coupled with the idea that the fishers should assist in funding any diversion from bare necessities for fisheries management, the following are examples of strategies which may be considered. Assuming that fisheries management plans have been developed and legislated in a cost effective manner, the Fisheries Administrator must then look at the human and infrastructure resources necessary to conduct fisheries surveillance operations. Assuming that resource projections have been determined based on one of the many stock assessment models (maximum sustainable yield, optimum sustainable yield, straight economic need, protein need, or otherwise), and that the basic requirement of the State is to ensure that the removals from the resources do not exceed these agreed totals, many options exist for enforcement. If there is only a requirement to report and land all fish captured, the surveillance function can possibly be carried out mainly with shore monitoring and spot checks at sea. It may also be the best strategy to use in a management system where the coastal resources are to be managed by the municipalities or sub-regions of the country, such as in Germany or the Philippines. Countries where fishing zones are very small and coastlines are short (for example, Togo - 48 km or the Congo - 41 km) might be States where the economics of the fishery would be best served by such a policy, if landing facilities are available.

Other zones, where there are large offshore fisheries or extensive coastlines, may require a strategy which depends on offshore technology. Some examples include the offshore component of the Philippines, the extensive zone of FFA, Australia, UK, New Zealand, Namibia, Morocco and Angola, as well as the island states of the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean Basin. Surveillance technology comes in various expensive packages including radar, aircraft, and satellite technology and cost effectiveness in these instances is very important. Successful examples include regional cooperation and sharing of expenses as seen in the FFA with the NIUE Treaty of 1992 and the subsequent, precedent-setting agreement between Tonga and Tuvalu for the sharing of MCS resources and the agreement for the flag vessels and resources of one State to assist in the enforcement of fisheries legislation in the other State's waters.

“No force” strategies

The use of cost effective “no force” tools is becoming most popular. These include the use of national or regional registry systems where the threat of removal of “good standing” is often enough to ensure compliance. Unfortunately, there are no international conventions in force concerning registration of ships, and none at all being considered for fishing vessels. The concept of international vessel registration standards and exchange of information would greatly facilitate the identification of vessels, implementation of flag State and port State control mechanisms and establish controls on “international renegade fishers” who are conducting fishing operations which undermine the internationally respected principles of conservation. The potential for the use and expansion of the regional register into an international principle merits serious consideration.

Another, “no force” initiative is the flag State responsibility for the activities of vessels flying its flag. This has been used effectively in the FFA treaty with the tuna fleet of the United States and is the principle behind the FAO “flagging agreement” and the efforts to control the fishing of highly migratory species and straddling stocks.

Another mechanism is the use of observers without enforcement powers, which, while being effective for data collection, has also been found to be a deterrent to non-compliant activities. This latter strategy is not without its pitfalls, the chief being the potential of external pressures on the observers at sea resulting in less than desirable data collection practices.

A new initiative is the development of vessel monitoring systems for timely catch and position information. The acceptance of this technology in the courts is one of the future challenges facing this technology.

Finally, a growing trend, borrowed from the commercial vessel trade, is the development and use of “port State controls” whereby there would be international agreements struck on a regional basis for the inspection and enforcement of fisheries legislation on any vessels operating in the entire region. This is an effective, low cost control using the potential of any country in the region being able to detain non-compliant vessels and crews as a counter-incentive to non-compliance with respected international maritime principles, be they for fisheries, pollution control or safety-at-sea.

These technologies can all be cost effective, and where they can be applied appropriately, they can be of little cost to the State other than the investment of time for coordination.

Traditional surveillance

Other traditional fisheries surveillance technologies include the use of aircraft and vessels to transport fisheries enforcement personnel to sea for inspection purposes. Air surveillance costs vary from $400 US per hour to $3,000 US per hour, or even up to $7000 US per air hour for large aircraft, depending on the aircraft and its capability. Offshore sea surveillance has a cost ranging from $500 per day to as high as $140,000 per day. These can be expensive resources for random patrol of fisheries waters. The capital cost of these acquisitions is often rapidly surpassed by the operational and maintenance costs, especially where trained technicians may not be available in the country. Careful consideration of all factors and needs is suggested prior to committing the State to the acquisition of major capital resources for MCS activities.

Fisheries management strategies

The fisheries management strategy, as noted before, will have a considerable impact on the MCS resources required. If the fisheries management plan are traditional and require at-sea patrols and inspections of the vessel, catches and gear, costs will escalate. These can perhaps be minimized by the legal requirement have on board fishing gear only for the fishery authorized for the particular area of operations. This can be verified, at least initially, through pre-fishing port visits which could serve for explanation of the legislation in force and the vessel inspection. This would not be an appropriate strategy for mixed fisheries with different size mesh. If the above were coupled with the requirement for all transhipment in port, this type of legislation and fisheries management scheme could be easier to enforce than other traditional methods.

The use of effort control as opposed to quota controls, which require expensive boardings, has already been noted. The use of air surveillance and photography linked with onboard navigation systems has proven expensive, but it appears to remain the most effective method to survey offshore zones for fishing effort control and area closures. In the case of the domestic fleet however, where transhipment at sea is not permitted, the most cost-effective means of verifying landings is through port monitoring as the fish is offloaded. This will not however, control the culling, dumping, fishing in closed areas or illegal transhipment at sea.

Regional cooperation

The advantages of cooperation with other states on a regional basis have been noted. The cost savings, facilitation of management of migratory stocks and the potential ability to fund newer technology on a joint basis are the main benefits that can accrue from such a relationship. Key to the decision on the infrastructure required is the complexity of teh fisheries, the trained resources available and the international cooperation possible in the region. The resultant costs should constitute an important component of the negotiation of fees for fishing privileges, both for the domestic and foreign fishing sectors.

Private sector MCS

An option gaining in popularity in some countries is to move the MCS costs away from the civilian and military bureaucracies to the private sector. Although the unit costs of MCS activities may increase initially above those for the government, it has been found that the private sector, with a clear mandate, can sometimes run the MCS operations in a more business-like, cost-effective manner than is possible in the government bureaucracy. Experience has shown this to be the case for air surveillance in some countries. The concept of community-based fisheries management and deputizing of private sector personnel to work with local authorities could also be a cost-effective option for consideration. The concept could be considered for other MCS components. Government officials then need only monitor the results of the implementation by the private sector. There is a major disadvantage here however, if the government does not remember to bring the MCS sector into the initial planning sessions to ensure that they can address and implement the fisheries management plans. Failure to do this can result in ineffective MCS activities. Privatization of MCS can be carried out successfully, but it needs a very good liaison between all involved parties, perhaps more than can be expected in some bureaucracies.

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