Recommendation 2: International – Best Practices

Direct the Task Force to develop, within one year (and refine as appropriate in subsequent years), best practices for catch documentation and data tracking; high seas boarding and inspection; monitoring, control, and surveillance measures (including observer programs, vessel tracking systems, authorized vessel lists); port State control; and compliance monitoring and promote their adoption in each of the Regional Fishery Management Organizations (RFMOs) of which the United States is a member.


Effective management of internationally shared fish stocks requires cooperation among nations to develop the necessary monitoring, control, and surveillance measures to ensure that all follow the agreed upon rules. Different RFMOs have adopted different measures over the years, and they are often developed ad hoc within each organization and not always updated in light of improvements in technology or other advances. Particularly among the RFMOs that manage similar fish stocks, consistent and up-to-date measures that reflect best practices will facilitate enforcement, eliminate loopholes, and improve cooperation. At the same time, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Effective use of these tools also means identifying which tools fit best with the specifics of each fishery or region. 

Article 21 of the 1995 United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement (UNFSA) establishes a reciprocal high seas boarding and inspection regime that is a critical tool for greater cooperation in enforcement of RFMO-adopted conservation and management measures. This regime serves as the best-practice model for RFMO schemes. To date only the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) has implemented measures to the full extent outlined in UNFSA, and the United States will continue to seek adoption of comparable regimes in the other RFMOs to which it is a party.

Implementation Steps

Lead Agencies: NOAA and the Department of State
Other agencies involved: DOJ
This work, and particularly efforts to regularly update it into the future, may also be rolled into efforts
to revise and further implement the U.S. National Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter, and Eliminate IUU
  • By June 2015, NOAA and the Department of State will convene an interagency group to evaluate
    existing RFMO measures related to monitoring, control, and surveillance (including port State
    controls) and compliance monitoring, related U.S. regulations, and input received from U.S. and
    international comments on the draft recommendations. The interagency group will identify best
    practices among these existing measures, including evaluating their overall effectiveness and the
    status of implementation and compliance by RFMO members with the various measures. The work
    will also include identifying the circumstances in which a particular tool might be most effective or
  • By September 2015, the interagency group will complete a set of best practices, including, as appropriate,
    model text and/or key elements that could form the basis of RFMO measures.
  • By December 2015, U.S. delegations to RFMOs will begin, as appropriate given existing measures, to
    advance proposals to adopt new, or modify existing, measures based on these best practices, including
    UNFSA-consistent high seas boarding and inspection regimes. Specific proposals will also take
    into account input from relevant U.S. constituent Advisory Committees appointed to advise the U.S.
    delegations to each RFMO.
  • By December 2015, based on the results of expert work convened by the FAO to develop best
    practices for catch documentation and trade tracking, the interagency group will, as appropriate given
    existing measures, expand this work to include multilateral catch documentation schemes.

One example of best practices for data documentation. Photo Credit: NOAA Fisheries

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