Global Fisheries MCS Evaluation Report / by Francisco Blaha

I have known Pramod Ganapathiraju for a few years now, (even if never actually meet in person I think). He has been involved in various areas of the IUU scene. My initial contact with him was in regards his  “anchor point and influence” methodology to examine illegal and unreported catches.

MCS in Action

MCS in Action

The idea was to use empirical data from a wide variety of sources to establish “anchor point” estimates of the upper and lower bounds of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in each tuna fishery in different countries top 3 tuna species.  Monte Carlo simulations would be then used to investigate the effects of uncertainty, with 1000 simulations across the distribution of uncertainty. The aim was to estimate IUU catches for each of the tuna products caught from both within Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), the high seas and Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) waters. The proposal, unfortunately, did not get funding, but we stayed in contact.

He recently started publishing country reports from a mammoth Policing the Open Seas report, a global evaluation of Fisheries Monitoring Control and Surveillance to date covering more than 80 countries.

His report document’s latest information to draw a picture of the gaps & strengths in MCS infrastructure, inspections and capabilities in each nation to tackle and control Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. 

Over a period of five years, more than 180 enforcement officials, MCS experts and Government officers from 84 countries were contacted for consultation and feedback at different stages of this MCS analysis. 52 confidential interviews were also conducted with enforcement officials in developing countries. 

There is hardly any published literature to estimate MCS effectiveness in the fisheries sector and hence his global study constitutes a unique resource.

As he is doing this self-funded, I asked why he took on this? Below is what wrote back to me:

I initially started on a pilot scale as a purely research based study for my Doctoral research over 5 years (2007-2011), and I published preliminary results of 41 countries on May 2011 (Pramod 2011). The results for the 41 countries was presented with a description in Pramod (2012). The range of attributes used in the questionnaire for the 2011 study was rather limited, but after completion of my PhD and once I resumed full-time consulting I contacted several key experts in Military and civilian agencies to make the attributes for scoring the 12 questions more robust. 
The study was then extended to 84 countries and using a wide range of interviews, phone calls and e-mails & assistance from fellow consultants I was able to get feedback from enforcement agencies and civilian agencies over a five year period. In the beginning, many fisheries related ministries and military agencies (Coast Guard or Navy) back in 2012 were reluctant to provide feedback citing confidentiality of MCS data. 
But after evaluating my request and case study questionnaire I received feedback from 75 countries. In many cases, I had to call the concerned person to explain the motivation behind the study before feedback was received and cited in Anonymous format. The range of feedback received ranged from a single response from fisheries ministry in the country concerned to 5 different responses from different agencies (ports, customs, fisheries, Coast Guard, etc.). 
Twelve of the 84 country reports were released online since April 2017 and another 10 reports would be made public in the coming months (
Note that all country evaluation documents are a ‘living document’ and may change with time. I remain open at any time to comments, corrections or adjustments. Just contact me.

Beyond any opinion, one may have on the accuracy of the individual reports by insiders knowledge, the task is impressive and good on him for tackling it.

And as some said to me once “no project is perfect… they are all perfectible!” so if you think you know better, get in touch with him and help make them better!

Pramod (2011) Evaluations of Monitoring, Control and Surveillance in marine fisheries of 41 countries, MCS Case Studies Report, Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, Canada, May 2011, 222 pages.

Pramod (2012) Illegal and unreported fishing: Global analysis of incentives and a case study estimating illegal and unreported catches from India. PhD Thesis. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, 343 pages (