Strategic Framework for Fishery Monitoring and Catch Reporting in the Pacific Fisheries

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Principle 3: Tailored requirements

Information requirements will depend on the nature and scope of the fishery, reflecting the particular risks and management regime; and they may evolve over time.

The level of fishery monitoring and catch reporting has to respond appropriately to the complexity and degree of risk associated with each fishery. Such flexibility is consistent with the precautionary approach, which requires increased risk avoidance—in this case, enhanced information gathering—where there is greater uncertainty or risk of serious or irreversible harm.

Information requirements will vary by fishery with certain key characteristics, risk factors and reporting obligations, including:

  • Single stock or single species fishery versus multi-stock or multi-species fishery;
  • Abundant, healthy target stock versus stock or species of concern;
  • Extent and status of bycatch, discard mortality and other ecosystem impacts;
  • Economic and socio-cultural value of the fishery;
  • Fishing power and exploitation rate; and
  • Open access or competitive fishery versus quotas or defined shares.

If the fishery is more complex, with higher biological, socio-economic and other risks, or there are specific reporting needs to be met, then monitoring and catch reporting will be more intensive.  This enhanced requirement will be expressed in terms of information attributes, for example, greater detail in the fishery data collected, a higher frequency of reporting, or more precision and accuracy of estimates derived from the data.

Monitoring and reporting requirements may evolve with changes in the nature and intensity of the fishery as well as in the management approach.  For instance, some management measures may allow the information level to be reduced while maintaining an acceptable degree of risk (e.g., by modifying the harvest area or gear after assessments have identified high-risk factors).

Principle 4: Shared accountability and access

Everyone involved in monitoring and reporting—harvesters, DFO and third parties—must be committed to providing timely, accurate fisheries information.  Continued access to the resource and its benefits is contingent on all harvesting groups fulfilling their roles in data provision and meeting identified compliance levels.

DFO’s responsibilities include ensuring the effective management and control of fisheries, compiling, analyzing and auditing catch estimates and related information, integrating it into established databases, and publicly reporting the data as required. 

Harvesters are individually and collectively responsible for complying with management regimes and controls and providing fishery monitoring and catch reporting data.  This includes collecting, recording and communicating all catch and fishery monitoring information.  DFO will work with harvesters on planning and implementing the specific monitoring and reporting programs for individual fisheries.  Increasingly in Pacific fisheries, harvesters have been assuming responsibility for the costs of monitoring and reporting.  Over the long term, all harvesting groups in every fishery are expected to bear their share of costs to meet these information requirements.

All participants need to appreciate that their responsibility will be increased where a higher level of information is required to manage ecosystem risks, or to satisfy other management objectives.  Harvesters may experience sustained or greater access to fishing and additional resource benefits if the right data are available to properly address these elevated risks and/or other objectives.  Conversely, a failure to comply with monitoring and reporting requirements may lead to restrictions on fishery openings and future fishing opportunities.

The effective monitoring and catch reporting of fisheries requires high levels of compliance.  Failure to comply with monitoring and reporting requirements and other priority regulations and Conditions of Licences will require Resource Managers to review alternatives to addressing fishery risks such as adjusting the management regime or reducing the scope and nature of harvest opportunities.  Collaborative processes will identify required compliance rates for and anticipated responses to, non-compliance. Incentives and disincentives will be highlighted in these discussions.

Principle 5: Cost-effectiveness

Fishery monitoring and catch reporting programs will ensure that the information requirements are achieved as cost-effectively as possible.

Various tools and methods are available for collecting and transmitting data, each with its own costs and benefits.  For example, more effective monitoring programs could be designed and shared between fisheries and sectors to achieve efficiencies while still meeting specific requirements.  The challenge for Resource Managers and harvesters is to agree on a monitoring program that balances rigor, affordability and practicality of implementation.  This is not to say that programs will sacrifice accuracy and thoroughness of information gathering for lower harvester costs.  In cases where an enhanced monitoring program is not affordable, a more conservative harvest regime (e.g., by controlling area, time, effort or gear type) may be required to adequately manage the risks.