Twenty-fourth Session

Rome, Italy, 26 February - 2 March 2001



This document contains an overview of the topics discussed at the Joint FAO/IMO Ad hoc Working Group on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and Related Matters and highlights its main conclusions. The full report is available as document FAO Fisheries Report No. 937.


1. The Working Group was established as a result of the call made by the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, which met in April 1999, highlighting the issue of flag and port State responsibilities and the need for FAO and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to cooperate on solving problems relating to IUU Fishing. Subsequently the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 54/32, inter alia "called upon IMO , in cooperation with FAO, and ....... to define the concept of the genuine link between the fishing vessels and the State......" IUU fishing was raised at the Eighth Session of IMO's Sub-Committee on the Flag State Implementation (FSI-8) (London, 24-28 January 2000). The Sub-Committee, realizing that IMO, and in particular the Sub-Committee itself, could provide assistance to FAO on this matter, but recognizing the need for a policy decision on the issue, agreed to refer the matter to the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) and the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) for further guidance on how the issues involved could be incorporated in the Sub-Committee's work programme. The Sub-Committee further recommended that these two Committees consider the formation of a joint FAO/IMO Ad hoc Working Group and invited FAO to submit a relevant document, including draft terms of reference, for such a joint group, to the 72nd Session of the MSC 72 in May 2000.

Accordingly, FAO presented a paper to the IMO Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) suggesting draft terms of reference for a Joint Ad hoc Working Group which could provide advice to the two Organizations without incurring excessive unplanned expenditure. The agreed terms of reference are attached as Appendix 1.

2. The Joint FAO/IMO Ad hoc Working Group on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Related Matters was held in Rome, Italy from 9 to 11 October 2000. The Governments of Australia, Chile, Japan, Malta, Philippines, South Africa, United States of America and the European Community represented FAO at the Working Group. The Governments of Argentina, Canada, China, Denmark, Liberia, the Republic of Korea and Turkey represented the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The Secretariat of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) was also represented. Five other FAO member countries and two international non-governmental organizations attended as observers.

3. The following is a summary of the results of the Working Group.

The Ad hoc Working Group:

1. Taking into account the documentation prepared for, and the results of, the Expert Consultation on IUU Fishing in Sydney, Australia, and further taking into account the respective competences, mandates and the experience of FAO and IMO, the Joint Ad hoc Working Group will:


Checklist for Flag State Control

(This checklist, where appropriate, applies to transport and support vessels

that are involved in transshipment)

Flag State control

The primary actions controlled by a flag State concern the allocation of its flag, as well as, the registration process and are normally, but not always, the responsibility of maritime authorities. The flag State should establish laws and regulations and exercise control of fishing vessels with regard to maritime safety, marine pollution prevention and crew conditions. The flag State should also ensure that a fishing vessel entitled to fly its flag is issued with an authorization to fish. In the case of a vessel intended for fishing operations in the EEZ of the flag State or on the high seas, the competent authority in the flag State would issue the authorization to fish. If, however, the vessel seeks to fish in the waters of another State, it is the other State that would issue the authorization to fish.

1. Allocation of flag and registry

Ensure compliance with national requirements regarding ownership and the recording of ownership details. The vessel and its equipment should be inspected to ensure that the minimum standards in relation to the safety, marine pollution prevention and crew conditions on board fishing vessels as addressed by IMO and ILO, as appropriate, are met.

2. The authorization to fish

Provision of conditions to be met by the owners and those in charge of a fishing vessel during its operation. The actual conditions to be applied should reflect the requirements of fisheries authorities.

3. Records of fishing vessels

Exercise control in relation to the record of fishing vessels in relation to the technical details of a vessel and ownership administrative controls. The flag State should also exercise control in relation to the minimum requirements for a record of fishing vessel and to the extent possible, the requirements should not be less than set out in the Compliance Agreement.

4. Position Reporting

Setting minimum requirements, as appropriate, for fishing vessel position reporting by radio or by satellite communications systems in relation to safety of life and property at sea and fisheries management. Ensure that the systems adopted for fisheries management purposes complement, rather than interfere with, maritime safety systems, in particular where the use of a satellite vessel monitoring system is a requirement.

These systems should be, wherever possible, compatible with systems in place or under development in the region or sub-region as the case may be, particularly in relation to search and rescue (SAR).

5. Catch Data Reporting

Ensure systems for the collection of raw data from fishing vessels of the flag State are in place covering operations in the State's own jurisdiction, operations on the high seas, and operations in waters under the jurisdiction of another State. The catch data reporting system should include the State's fishing, transport and support vessels that are involved in transshipment.


Criteria for Inspections of a Foreign Flag Fishing Vessel by a Port State

Fisheries Inspections

Certificate of registry

Verification that the certificate of registry, required to be carried in accordance with the Appendix in the Convention on Facilitation of Maritime Traffic (FAL) is valid. It should also be ascertained that the marking of the vessel for its identity is correct. The flag, the vessel's identification marks and the radio call sign of the vessel should be compatible with the flag State given in the certificate of registry.

Certificates and Logs

Confirmation that entries in the Garbage Record Book and the logbooks (deck and fishing log and machinery and processing logs) are being kept up to date.

Authorization to fish

Verification that the reported catch or transshipped cargo and the origins of the catch/cargo are not at variance with conditions attached to the authorization to fish.


Confirmation that the items described in the manifest correspond, for example, to the types and amounts of fish in the hold(s) or other items of cargo.

Certificate of origin of catch (where applicable)

Verification that the reported catch or transshipped cargo and the origins of the catch/cargo are not at variance with conditions attached to the authorization to fish.

General inspection of the fishing vessel

Formulation of a general impression of the state of the vessel including accommodation should be made and any obvious defects or doubts should be communicated to the appropriate authority in the port State.

Information to be given to the flag State through appropriate channels of any detainable deficiency noted and the advice of the flag State to be requested on how it intends to proceed. In this regard, the port State should be prepared to give the flag State assistance.

Verification that instrumentation necessary to determine a vessel's position in relation to the limits of EEZs and or fishing zones is operational and that there is no evidence that they have been tampered with.

Inspection of fishing gear

Verification that the fishing gear on board, for use by the fishing vessel, is in conformity with the conditions of the authorization to fish and in conformity with the type of fishing vessel being inspected.