COFI Day 3: IMCS Report

Dear Colleagues,

The Wednesday sessions at COFI included agenda item #9: Ocean Governance and Outcomes of Rio+20, and also agenda item #10b:Combating IUU Fishing. Interventions during both sessions pointed to the need for more data and capacity building around the world. See  below for more in-depth reporting.

In addition, the International MCS Network launched the Stop IUU Fishing Award at the Sheikh Zayed Media Centre in the FAO Atrium yesterday. The contest is open to all applicants from all sectors, and we welcome your submissions. You can learn more about the contest, including information about applying, at
Point 9: Ocean governance and outcomes of Rio +20.
Delegates welcomed the outcomes of the Rio +20 conference in June 2012, which focused on the implementation and enforcement of existing international instruments and raised the profile of oceans and fisheries in the general debate.  The existing instruments refer not only to fisheries but also to other activities in the maritime domain. Against this background, some States raised the issue of the need for an integrated maritime policy to ensure proper ocean governance. States play a central role in the implementation and enforcement of international instruments, and also in areas beyond national jurisdiction through RFMOs and other international bodies.

Overlapping initiatives among these bodies should be avoided (fisheries conservation and management, CITES, biodiversity, etc.) To this end, States should cooperate and representatives of several states felt that FAO should play the leading role in fisheries and aquaculture initiatves and be active in work involving these issues.

Canada proposed to proceed to regular exchanges of view in the FAO. In close consultation with member States FAO should report on progress in the implementation and enforcement of international obligations in areas beyond national jurisdiction including a gap analysis. The focus should be on existing requirements and not on new additional rules.

RFMO’s were invited to share their views after the country interventions were complete. The representative of NEAFC referred to the existing cooperation between NEAFC and OSPAR. The internal commitments applicable to areas beyond national jurisdiction in the North East Atlantic are coordinated and implemented by both organisations in line with their conventions. He stated that this cooperation worked out well in practice.

Iceland advised delegations to include fisheries experts in all delegations such as CITES and biodiversity meetings, among others.

Other representatives underlined the importance of RFMO’s for implementation and enforcement of international requirements. RFMO’s play a central role in cooperation between States at a regional level. Some States pointed to the need for an independent external evaluation every 5 years for RFMOs and that evaluation reports should be publicly available.

The need to ensure sufficient capacity building activities was underlined by many delegations, as this is necessary to make it possible that all States and bodies apply and enforce the applicable international provisions.

Representatives of several States cautioned for overambitious and unrealistic goals that cannot be achieved. The goals set in Johannesburg should be achieved by 2015- just over two years from today.

Point 10 b: IUU

Under this point the USA drew attention to the International MCS Network and called on States to become part of the Network. It underlined the importance of the Network as an information and knowledge sharing platform. Costa Rica announced that it would host the fourth Global Fisheries Enforcement Training Workshop in 2013. It invited professionals in the MCS domain to participate in this event and called on States to send their experts to the Workshop.

Four states have ratified the Port State Measures Agreement, while 26 other states are finalizing  their processes. This instrument becomes effective when 25 ratifications have been deposited. Although the ratification processes take time, the trend is promising and supports the expectation that this instrument will become binding on the Parties.

Representatives of most States supported the finalization and adoption of the Criteria for Flag State Performance. There was also strong support voiced for the continued development of the Global Rcord of Fishing Vessels based on a global unique identifier. Representatives of several States called on tuna RFMOs to get in touch with FAO to streamline the overhaul of their vessel registers and to work out systems compatible and consistent with the Global Record of Fishing Vessels elaborated by FAO. Japan and Iceland emphasized that this project should be cost-effective and avoid duplication. FAO was encouraged to continue its program of capacity building to prepare countries for entering the Global Record while at the same time strengthening their national and regional vessel registries.

Many representatives identified international cooperation between States and capacity building as key issues critical for the success of the fight against IUU. States alone cannot win the fight against IUU that is organised often on a global scale. Russia stated that IUU may be linked to other crimes such infringements of labour conditions and maritime requirements. Information sharing between States and international bodies is very important in the field of IUU. Some States raised the question of the protection of confidentiality of data when exchanged between States and international bodies.
Representatives of several States in the Indian Ocean referred to the treat of piracy in the area, which competes for the means available to enforce international requirements.

That is the report for Wednesday from COFI. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to email us at