COFI Final: IMCS Report

The Thirtieth Session of COFI concluded on Friday July 13th. While the FAO’s official report of the meeting will contain the decisions of the Committee, the report will not contain all of the proposals and comments on IUU made by many of the more than 44 countries which spoke on the issue.
In addition to summarizing the main decisions which will be in the report, the International MCS Network would also like to share with you these other important comments for your information and possible consideration. No one else feeds the MCS community this specialized information in the same way.

Main decisions:
1. COFI, as a Committee, agreed that IUU was still a pressing problem and that all members should act to fight IUU by implementing the existing tools and instruments and, by cooperating more. The African Group added that capacity development was key for them and stressed their need to partner with international stakeholders.
2. Twenty-six members spoke of their progress on the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA) at the national level and urged others to do the same, so the Agreement could come into force soonest.
3. As part of the process of moving towards the Agreement becoming effective, the Committee recognized the importance of the information in Article 16 of the PSMA, i.e.,  designating national contact points and ports.
4. The work done on behalf of the ad hoc working group under Article 21 of the PSMA was approved but the working group will not come into existence until  the PSMA becomes effective. The Art.21 group is designed to focus on the creation of a special fund to assist developing countries with implementation of the PSMA.
5. The Committee spoke of the need for further action on the Criteria for Flag State Performance (much of what is in the draft text is MCS. The Criteria will be voluntary). This will be the third meeting on the Criteria ( it is being considered during a process known as a Technical Consultation.) The Committee urged FAO to hold the meeting before the end of 2012 but funds will be needed. The USA indicated they may be able to supply funds.
6.    A full 50% of the countries which spoke on the IUU topic expressed their support for the Global Record of Fishing Vessels, Refrigerated Transport Vessels and Supply Vessels. They recognized the need for a global unique vessel identification number for vessels rather than a regional number and noted the necessity of RFMOs coordinating their vessel records with the Global Record.  Capacity development, which is currently being provided by FAO to some regions, was appreciated as the work will also help them with their national and regional vessel registries.
7. Costa Rica announced it would host the Fourth Global Fisheries Enforcement Training Workshop in 2013 (where the winners of the Network’s Stop IUU Fishing Award will be announced). The Committee urged members of COFI to participate in the Network.
8. India wanted more IUU statistics on activities and losses associated with IUU. Mexico asked for FAO to compile stats on IUU. (You may be asked for how your country or region quantifies its rate of IUU and other related issues. As the calculation of IUU is not straightforward, you may want to think about this now.)
9. Not in the report but raised on the floor: Sierra Leone’s Fisheries Minister called for the creation of a new full-time high level UN post on IUU fishing.
10. The Russian Federation wanted FAO to create an IUU list.
11. Mozambique indicated its new procedure of requiring briefings in advance of fishing for foreign and domestic vessels.
12. Liberia described  its success due to cooperation from Mozambique on a recent investigation and it also called attention to its new website which makes vessel registration information public.
13. Norway advised on the UNODC study on Organized Crime in Fisheries.
14. The Islamic Republic of Iran proposed the creation of an ad hoc working group to develop guidelines for fishing vessels to advise on piracy as it impacts fisheries.   A number of countries commented how they were victims of piracy.
15. Ghana announced its four new patrol vessels.
16. Indonesia noted its regional plan of action for responsible fishing involving 11 countries in Southeast Asia.
Many countries talked about the ongoing needs for MCS capacity building; the need for cooperation at all levels; the impossibility of fighting IUU alone; development of NPOAs- IUU and VMS.
Heard in corridor conversation: Create a new sub-committee on IUU Fishing (currently these exist for Aquaculture and Trade).

The IUU session exceeded three hours so the Chair let only a limited number of other organizations speak on the topic although many wanted to do so.
As always, we want to give you the  most accurate and recent reports of the International MCS Community. If you have any questions or want further information about a topic we’ve written about, please email