Design options for the development of tuna catch documentation schemes. / by Francisco Blaha

Back in April, I wrote about an article that my friend Gilles Hosch wrote for Globefish. I also mentioned there that he was finalising a big study for the GEF - ABNJ - FAO initiative, and that I will post about it when published… well after a complex birth process here it is (click to download)

Gilles' most difficult baby

Gilles' most difficult baby

CDS have been a topic of debate for more than 16 years and continue to mean different things to different people. His book clarifies the nature of CDS and what they can achieve and identifies the factors to be considered in the design of such schemes as a management and monitoring, control and surveillance tool in tuna fisheries.

 While we work in the same field, I have no issue to admit that he is "the" analytical expert on the CDS topic, and this book proves it. He gets to the bone of things and writes about it brilliantly. No one else I know (and it is my job to know) has spent more time and effort thinking and researching this topic out than he has.

I see my work to be on the implementation side of CDS in specific fisheries, the set up of the data streams needed to make it work and the capacity building to make them happen. As is bluntly obvious, I’m not a good writer… (I fact I hate it), but as in other aspects of my life, I force myself to do it, just because I’m bad at it.

Gilles can be a polarizing figure, and people in the fishing community may not agree with the scope and extent of what he proposes, but one must know that any CDS below the standards he sets in his book will be, literally, a substandard CDS.

Any e-CDS initiative based on whatever digital structure I have discussed in the past (here, here, link), would not do itself a service, if it didn't read this book from cover to cover first.

I have read his book at various stages of its development; and to me, it has become a compulsory reference at this stage…

At 131 pages, the book is not a light read, unless you are truly interested in the topic. However he set it up in a very accessible way, including the introduction, the book is structured into thirteen chapters.

Chapter 1 provides the introduction, establishing that the paper aims to provide technical guidance for tuna RFMO’s that may decide to develop CDS for commercial tuna fisheries in the future.

Chapter 2 defines the objective of a CDS as combatting IUU fishing, by creating markets restricted to the circulation of legally-certified tuna products. The potential for secondary CDS objectives is analysed, noting that the complex tasks of a CDS make it a tool unfit to pursue other objectives, without incurring the risk of overburdening and weakening it.

Chapter 3 establishes the concept of supply chain mapping, as a fundamental first step in designing a CDS. The supply chain and its complexities regarding product flows must be mapped out and understood, before the system can be designed. The chapter delves into the supply chain segments covering harvesting, unloading, distribution, processing and trade.

Chapter 4 is a key part of the paper regarding system design, as it presents the basic conceptual CDS framework on which all current unilateral and multilateral CDS are based. The concept presents a supply chain regimented into national and international supply chain segments, of which the former is managed through national rules and regulation, and the latter is directly subjected to the rules of the CDS.

Chapter 5 addresses the issue of estimated and verified weights, which is of particular importance to tuna fisheries. Current CDS do not provide adequate mechanisms to allow for the adjustment of estimated weights established at sea, and before unloading, into verified weights following landing and grading in a factory.

Chapter 6 is another key part of the paper regarding system design, describing the document system on which the CDS hinges. In electronic systems, documents are data assemblages – but in designing the system, it is easier to refer to “documents” to designate groups of data that have to be recorded and validated at given points along the supply chain.

Chapter 7 provides details regarding information to be recorded in certificates, for the full and the simplified catch certificates, and the trade certificate. It discusses the importance of the layout of certificates, even for electronic systems, so that printed copies can be easily read and understood.

Chapter 7 provides details regarding information to be recorded in certificates, for the full and the simplified catch certificates, and the trade certificate. It discusses the importance of the layout of certificates, even for electronic systems, so that printed copies can be easily read and understood.

Chapter 8 discusses a swathe of points related to the development of an electronic CDS (e-CDS), and the function of a central database – conceived of as a central online certificate registry. The location, architecture and parameters of the system are discussed, arguing that a single centralized electronic platform providing for global remote user access is the most solid option

Chapter 9 presents a number of key factors that must be taken into account when designing a CDS. These include the relevance of risk analysis, the coverage of species, products and types of fishing operations, document security, and the place of logbooks, VMS and observers in CDS.

Chapter 10 discusses oversight and enforcement in the CDS, and details how the principle of subsidiarity assigns enforcement mandates between centralised and least centralized authorities.

Chapter 11 looks at CDS development from a project perspective, detailing which elements should be taken into consideration when it is decided to develop a CDS, and how the project – overall – could be segmented and managed.

Chapter 12 takes a step back, and assesses what the consequences of individual RFMO CDS, covering but a fraction of any particular global tuna species would be. All current RFMO-based CDS cover an entire species throughout its global range, while all future RFMO-based tuna CDS would not.

Chapter 13 provides a model conservation and management measure for a harmonized tuna CDS established on the principles and options outlined in this paper; the model CMM can be used as a draft foundation text to establish a global tuna CDS harmonized between tuna RFMOs – or to develop a tuna CDS for a single tuna RFMO.

What impact this book will have on the development of future tuna CDS systems – including those efforts currently underway at the WCPFC –  or the review and fine-tuning of systems already in place, I don't know… but I like to think I can recognize effort when I see it… and Gilles went to the bottom of a topic that is dear to both of us… and it is my hope that those tuna RFMOs engaged in the process of developing CDS will give this book well deserved attention.