Catch Certification Schemes as a way to combat IUU fishing / by Francisco Blaha

Trade-based measures consist of actions directed toward the movements of products of IUU fishing and may include banning products from trade if found to be undermining fishery management regulations, or rejecting individual shipments which lack documentation required to establish their legal provenance. No proof of legality no trade… quite simple... in principle.

 only part of the picture

only part of the picture

Monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) tools such as lists of vessels authorised to fish, high seas boarding and inspection programmes, observer programmes, and vessel monitoring systems have recently been bolstered by the creation of a variety of vessel blacklists by Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) and individual countries, these tools are designed to prevent IUU fishing before or as it occurs.

Downstream measures, designed to penalize products of IUU fishing activities not caught at sea, have also been developed in the form of port State and trade-based measures such as Catch Certification Schemes (CCS). 

Port State measures consist of actions directed toward vessels in port. These may consist of refusing port access and services to vessels believed to have violated regulations or requiring prior notice and clearance of all landings from a given fishery as a matter of course. 

The legally-binding Port State Measures was agreed a few years ago by a group of 91 countries and now awaits ratification by 25 States before entering into force, however there are some serious concerns in terms of the disproportionate burden that many of those obligations impose in least developed countries. These initiative complements other ones like the potential development of a global record of fishing vessels and a permanent IMO# for fishing vessels

RFMOs have provided ground for both trade bans and the development of catch and trade documentation schemes for some key species as well as the EU IUU regulation, requiring documentation proving the legality of the capture, for imports of all wild-caught, non-ornamental marine fish, and you all know my reservations about it.

The Pacific has been talking about this for a few years now, but complexities on the understanding, the fear of even more disproportionate burden, and the interference of some DWFN, plus the cost associated to the development of a electronic system have made advances very slow.

This week, I’m back in PNG working with them on issues around the EU IUU Catch Certification, but as well taking a bigger and wider approach on this issue, as many initiatives (as I posted before) are coinciding and gelling into a workable system.

A Catch Certification Scheme (CCS) ties up fisheries information management systems with MCS and trade, hence it is an incredible powerful tool, that equally needs an incredible amount of work to be a good tool and not a headache.

Today we agreed with a few of the most influential people in the region that have a role into these complex fields in a set of principles that will be the basis of a pacific wide CCS. We advanced in the last couple of days more than some former efforts advances in a few years, which is awesome!

And is just to show how good is to have good people, regional champions (like PNG), fresh ideas, a common factor approach and committed driving principles. I’m really proud and happy of what we achieved today! 

If you want to understand more about Catch Documentation Schemes, this report by Shelley Clarke for the WCPFC is one of the best I know.