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Core Element

Regional cooperation is critical for the long-term sustainable protection of the living marine resource and the marine environment. Whilst some of the root causes of the depletion of fisheries resources can be addressed at the national level, many can only be successfully addressed through regional action.

The RPOA Action Plan 2007  addresses eleven action components:

The current resource and management situation in the region

The RPOA notes and affirms that the shared fish stocks are a very important source of food for people in the region, utilised by countries in the region and also traded both in and outside the region. Both overfishing and illegal fishing are seriously depleting the region’s fish stocks. In this regard, th e promotion of responsible fishing practices, and prevention, deterrence and elimination of illegal fishing are essential to ensure food security and poverty alleviation in the region and countries in the region should: 1.1 work together on compiling an overview of artisanal and industrial fishing, the current status of fish stocks, trade flows and markets.

Implementation of international and regional instruments

International instruments contain structures and measures upon which to build long term sustainable fisheries. The key global instruments that countries should consider when implementing responsible fishing practices include the 1982 ‘United Nations Convention on the Law of the Se a’ (UNCLOS), the ‘United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement’ (UNFSA), the FAO ‘Compliance Agreement’, the FAO ‘Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries’, the ‘International Plan of Action (IPOA) to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing’, the ‘IPOA for Reducing Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries’, the ‘IPOA for the Conservation and Management of Sharks’ and the ‘IPOA for the Management of Fishing Capacity’

Role of regional and multilateral organisations

Implementing  responsible  fishing  practices   and  combating  IUU  fishing  are  issues   for  the  whole  region.  Articles  63,   64  and  116-119  of  the  UNCLOS  requires   countries  to  cooperate  in  the  conservation  and  management  of  shared  stocks  and   highly migratory species. The management  expertise and technical capacity built up  over  the  years  by  regional  organisations  shou ld  be  harnessed  to  assist  with  the   problems of the region

Coastal State responsibilities

The collection, management and availability of accurate and timely information are essential in managing fishery resources and combating illegal fishing. Accurate data on the number of fishing vessels and fishing activity is required to provide for responsible fishing, hence the importance of maintaining comprehensive and up-to- date vessel registers and catch and effort information by all States, both coastal and flag

Flag State responsibilities

Coastal States through their flag State responsibilities in the region are at the forefront in implementing sustainable fishing practices and combating illegal fishing

Port State measures

Port States play a key role in combating illegal and unreported fishing in the region, given the need to land catch and support fishing activities. In th is regard, regional countries and fishing entities need to develop measures to regulate fishing vessels accessing their ports for transhipping and/or landing catch and collect and exchange relevant data

Regional market measures

In order to minimise unreported and illegal catches, countries should collaborate to implement regional market measures to identify and to track fish catches at all points in the marketing chain in a consistent way with existing international trade laws

Regional capacity building

Capacity building in all aspects of fisheries management must be encouraged. Countries are aware that a fully effective system requires technically competent implementation and operation. Technical a nd administrative staff require access to both formal and on-the-job training to build the requisite experience and competence in matters such as fisheries resource assessments, introduction of monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) measures and development of fish product tracking systems

Strengthening monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) systems

An MCS system, at both a national and regional level, suppor ts and underpins a robust fisheries management regime. A strong enforcement network can share data and information on enforcement strategies and provide advice and capacity building. To better coordinate efforts against illegal activity, countries should develop suitable and relevant inter-agency arrangements to develop their networks to quickly share information such as locations, names of vessels, ports used (home and/or unloading port) and species targeted, and other information as appropriate

Transhipments at sea

Transhipment outside the territorial sea shoul d be regulated to prevent illegal fishers from using it to launder thei r catches. Stronger monitoring, control and surveillance of both fishing and carrier vessels is a priority


Countries agree to support the ongoing development of the cooperative arrangements embodied in this RPOA. The effective implementation of the RPOA will be reviewed as determined by a Coordination Committee to be comprised of officials from each participating country and communicated to the FAO’s Committee on Fisheries and other regional bodies as appropriate