Under close surveillance
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CTA. 2005. Under close surveillance. Spore 119. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/48022
Internet URL: http://spore.cta.int/images/stories/pdf/old/spore119.pdf
Marine resources, so crucial to the countries of the South, are being over-exploited. Regulatory measures have been put in place, but must be accompanied by close surveillance of fishing vessels to be effective. Positive examples do exist...
Marine resources, so crucial to the countries of the South, are being over-exploited. Regulatory measures have been put in place, but must be accompanied by close surveillance of fishing vessels to be effective. Positive examples do exist, and these should be developed. June 11, 2005, saw a confrontation in Senegal between fishermen from Kayar and Guet-Ndar. The toll: one dead and several wounded. The cause of the dispute: rivalry over access to an increasingly scarce resource fish. Incidents of this kind are symptomatic of a serious problem. In August 2003, Spore sounded a cautionary note, urging the introduction of extensive political and economic changes if fish stocks were to be maintained. In March 2005, FAO confirmed that 75% of fishery resources had been fished to their maximum yield, over-exploited or exhausted. Encouragingly, there is growing awareness of the need to move towards sustainable fisheries management, which combines long-term viability with a strategy that satisfies the needs of fishers and ensures the economic development of resources. This has translated into a growing understanding, shared by all those involved, and in a range of measures, binding or otherwise, developed to regulate fishing. But there is still a long way to go before responsible and voluntary management of marine resources is adopted by all players in the fisheries sector. As long as stocks are over-exploited, and their profits diminished, fishers will continue to break the law. That was the clear message from several participants in an internet debate organised by CTA in 2004. Crucial for ACP states The problem of fisheries surveillance is gradually being perceived as a major issue. Experts are coming up with acronyms such as IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing), MCS (monitoring, control and surveillance) and VMS (vessel monitoring system). In June 2005, a conference on the impact of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing on developing countries was held in London. These developing nations are particularly badly affected, the meeting heard, because of a lack of funds, technical capacity, manpower, cooperation between states and, occasionally, of political will. Look out, fishers on patrol In an effort to reduce the number of conflicts between industrial and small-scale fishers, sparked by the incursion of trawlers into the zone reserved for small-scale fishing, a community surveillance project was set up in Guinea in 2002 (see Spore 110). It aimed to lower the number of trawlers by teaming up the institutions charged with coastal surveillance with the fishing communities themselves. According to Hassimiou Tall, technical advisor to the Ministry for Fisheries and Aquaculture in Guinea, the results have been very encouraging. The programme has succeeded in reducing illegal incursions by industrial trawlers by 60% as crews now know that some small-scale fishers are working for the authorities. Relatively inexpensive (US$20,000 less than 16,500) and holding considerable promise, the Guinean experiment is due to be extended to Congo, Gabon and Mauritania. But in Guinea itself, the pilot project has been (provisionally?) suspended, due to lack of funds. More proof, if it were needed, that good ideas are not enough, unless they are backed up by adequate resources. The countries of the South are not alone. Published last May, the European Commission s annual report on serious breaches to the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy revealed that the number of infringements recorded rose from 6,756 in 2002 to 9,502 in 2003. Five EU member states detected nearly 90% of all breaches. Unauthorised fishing accounted for 22% of the cases, while the figure for unlicensed fishing was 17%. A fine was imposed in 84% of cases. In 4,720 cases, fishing gear was seized. The June 2005 bulletin of the Fisheries News Update section on CTA s Agritrade website concluded that the report offered interesting lessons for ACP countries, noting that greater transparency over infringements and sanctions will increase confidence in the fair and equitable enforcement of regulations. Fisheries infringements come in many guises, they include: fishing with unlicensed boats; and failing to land catches in local ports, in spite of the obligations of fisheries agreements and falsely reporting tonnage caught. Whatever the measures taken, whether they are aimed at getting fishing zones respected, at better regulating fishing gear, at limiting the size of catches, at guaranteeing a biological rest period or at developing the economic activity of ports by making it mandatory to land all or part of catches locally, the notion of self-regulation appears to be an illusory one, and control measures are certainly needed. Some of these are already in place, and fall into two groups so-called hardware and software measures. Means and human resources Hardware measures consist of advanced and often costly and cumbersome techniques, such as radar, onboard systems and satellite. To monitor an economic zone of 200 square miles, it takes several rapid intervention boats, surveillance vessels, radar stations and even airplanes. And, of course, a computer system capable of cross checking data, with permanent internet access. For ACP countries, it is hard to reconcile such demands with budgetary constraints. These systems are essential, but they are also inadequate unless they are backed by human resources. The software techniques refer to onboard observers or the participation of fishing communities. Officially, any such observers go onboard to collect scientific data. But since they are equipped with communication tools, their information is by default used for surveillance. They run the risk therefore, if this aspect of their work were to be known, of no longer being allowed on board. Senegal s fishing committees By limiting their catches and adopting good practices, the fishers of Kayar, in Senegal, have enabled fish stocks to be replenished. A local initiative, surveillance committees see to it that this Kayar code is respected. Fishing zones have been defined and a limit imposed of 45 kg of fish per canoe per day. Highly destructive techniques such as the use of explosives or drag nets have been banned. These days, catches are smaller, but they fetch a better price. Not surprisingly, this initiative has quickly spread throughout Senegal s main fishing zones since 2001, around 50 local committees have been created. But the incidents of June 11 show that not all fishers are ready to take the idea on board. The presence of onboard observers is crucial for providing independent information on fishing activities, both on a daily and a case-by-case basis, the CTA online debate concluded. But to be effective, such methods depend on the inspectors receiving adequate training and payment, as Ms Janet Uronu, joint president for fisheries at the Ministry for Natural Resources and Tourism in Tanzania pointed out, The high levels of technology (and the principles on which it is based) to be found on modern fishing vessels were well beyond the comprehension of those fishery officers sent to inspect the vessels. The job of these inspectors also carries risks: vulnerability to corruption, especially if they are poorly paid, violence and the risk of being taken hostage, to prevent them from reporting what they have seen. A number of experiments closely linking fishing communities with surveillance operations have been carried out in West Africa. After all, the fishermen know the fishing grounds better than anyone. However, while these initiatives have produced positive results, they also raise the question of motivation the fishers are simultaneously acting as inspectors and stakeholders. This approach effectively establishes that small-scale fishers are also responsible for the over-exploitation of resources. A culture of change None of these methods will work unless at least two conditions are met. First, there must be clear rules about what is and is not allowed, accompanied by sanctions which are properly enforced. Secondly, there needs to be regional cooperation between countries facing the same problem. That is true for the North: on March 14, 2005, the EU Fisheries Council finally agreed to establish a Community Fisheries Control Agency, based in Vigo, Spain which should coordinate fishing control systems within community waters, but also an important point for ACP countries within the framework of bilateral fisheries agreements. It is also true for the South, where one of the most successful initiatives in this respect has been the MCS Programme set up by the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). Financed by the EU, it has, since 2003, allowed bilateral and trilateral surveillance operations to be carried out between the countries concerned, and strengthened the equipment, human resources and capacity to exchange information of member countries which needed support in these areas. Tanzania, for example, now has more than 30 trained observers. According to Ms Uronu, the first change needed to achieve such results involves overcoming inertia and bureaucracy. A culture of change is essential. The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, which numbers seven mainland or island East African countries among its members, is another example of regional cooperation. According to Mark Pearson, at the Secretariat of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), this cooperation has already enabled the number of refrigerated fishing vessels practising IUU fishing to be cut from 140 to 40. One method used is the exchange, between member countries and others, of lists of authorised vessels, together with their tonnage (known as the positive list ). Other regional groupings in the fisheries sector may lead to similar initiatives. That has already happened in the case of the Programme pêche, commerce et environnement en Afrique de l Ouest (PCEAO), a programme set up to promote sustainable fishing in six West African states, which met in Dakar in early June 2005. The question of surveillance was not specifically on the agenda, but the West African sub-regional commission on West African fisheries, la Commission sous-régionale des pêches d Afrique de l Ouest (CSRP), does have a project to address this issue, supported by the Luxembourg Development Agency among others. In the Caribbean, the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism lists the development of a monitoring, control and surveillance system as a priority. Finally, the Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Unit of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), based in the Solomon Islands, has, since 1999, installed a satellite surveillance system to monitor fishing vessels on behalf of its member states. It has proved to be highly effective the number of cases of illicit fishing recorded by the authorities is, and continues to be, very small. Fisheries surveillance requires considerable means. How should available resources be best used, and what kind of support is needed? That is what future fisheries agreements being drawn up between ACP countries and the EU should try to clarify. Equally, they should encourage greater harmony between national fisheries legislation, as well as regional cooperation in various forms: data exchange, joint patrols, exchange of personnel and experiences between crews, and of surveillance systems in the EU and the ACP regions concerned. In the long run, it makes sense all round.