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Regional Fisheries Bodies Know How To Combat IUU Fishing – But Can They Execute It?

The most recent meeting of the Regional Fishery Body Secretariats Network (RSN) took place 9-10 March at FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy. The Network is an informal consortium representing up to 46 regional fisheries bodies (RFB), including the five major tuna RFMOs.

One of the important agenda items was an exchange of ideas and experience of network members in combating IUU fishing. The discussion identified several important factors that should be considered in the design of strategies to combat IUU fishing:

• Port state measures
• Establishment of fishing and fish transport vessel “black lists”
• Catch documentation schemes to enhance traceability of fish products
• Establishment of a global record of fishing vessels
• Capacity of developing countries
• Regional cooperation and information sharing

It is clear from the above that the RFB’s have enough knowledge on how to combat IUU fishing and the precise measures which should be taken. The question of course remains if they will also get the internal agreement within their body to implement and execute these measures effectively.

The members of the institutions participating in the RSN include most States with an economic interest in marine or freshwater fisheries; these states account for the vast majority of the annual global harvest of wild-caught fish. Many inter-governmental and non-government organizations participate as observers in the work of these bodies. Often this is where decision-making gets mixed up with political and economical interests.

FAO serves as secretariat to the RFB Secretariats Network that meets biennially immediately after FAO’s Committee on Fisheries meeting. Issues discussed during RSN biennial meetings include:

• The role of Regional Fisheries Bodies including RFMO/RFB performance enhancement, small-scale and inland fisheries;
• External factors affecting fisheries management
• Global fisheries governance
• IUU fishing
• Overcapacity
• Incorporating ecosystem considerations into management arrangements
• Market and trade-related issues
• Small-scale fisheries
• Inland fisheries
• Aquaculture
• Capacity development in developing countries;
The RSN provides a valuable international resource for disseminating information relating to the Agreement and discussing regional and sub-regional experiences associated with it.