Clear and Consistent Mechanisms with Predetermined Consequences Could Improve Regional Fisheries Management Organisation Compliance

Global workshop reviews procedures and tools for responding to non-compliance, incentivizing proper behavior

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Clear and Consistent Mechanisms with Predetermined Consequences Could Improve Regional Fisheries Management Organisation Compliance

Editor's note: This headline was updated on May 31, 2022 to mirror the title of the white paper and remain consistent with the other workshop reports.

Many global fish stocks managed by regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) remain over-exploited, compromising the sustainability of such stocks and their associated marine ecosystems. RFMOs can help address this global issue by increasing compliance with conservation and management mandates. The Pew Charitable Trusts and the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF)— taking into account recommendations at the U.N. level and current initiatives in RFMOs to strengthen compliance mechanisms—convened a series of expert workshops to identify some of the challenges in current mechanisms and potential solutions that would strengthen these processes and lead to improved compliance by those subject to the rules. 

At the latest workshop, in November 2021, participants took steps to promote improved structures, procedures, and responses to identified non-compliance. Specifically, experts discussed existing RFMO compliance processes and their effectiveness at encouraging members to adhere to the rules. Participants also looked at consequences—such as increased monitoring or repayment of overcatches—that could increase the processes’ effectiveness, and reviewed ranking RFMO measures and the associated consequences of non-compliance.

Participants at previous workshops, in September 2020 and March 2021, had highlighted the importance of understanding the RFMO compliance processes that are most effective to help and encourage RFMO members to abide by the measures.

Nearly 40 compliance experts—from RFMO Secretariats and compliance committees, international and nongovernmental organizations, academia, and civil society—attended the meeting. Participants explored all facets of transparency in compliance review mechanisms, including in information to be provided to and by RFMOs; in the actual review mechanisms, including deliberations; and in determining outcomes and potential follow-up actions for situations of non-compliance and for the RFMO as a whole.