Monitoring control and surveillance
Monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS), in the context of fisheries, is defined by the Food and Agriculture Organization
Food and Agriculture Organization
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is a specialised agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and...

 (FAO) of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 as a broadening of traditional enforcing national rules over fishing, to the support of the broader problem of fisheries management.

Internationally, the basis of law for fisheries management comes from the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea , also called the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea treaty, is the international agreement that resulted from the third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea , which took place from 1973 through 1982...

 (UNCLOS). Further definition was in the Declaration of Cancun This is complemented by the work of a variety of regional organizations that cover high seas fishing areas. A key concept in international fishing laws is that of the Exclusive Economic Zone
Exclusive Economic Zone
Under the law of the sea, an exclusive economic zone is a seazone over which a state has special rights over the exploration and use of marine resources, including production of energy from water and wind. It stretches from the seaward edge of the state's territorial sea out to 200 nautical...

, which extends 200 miles (370 km) from the coast of nations bordering on the oceans. EEZ is not a meaningful concept in relatively small seas such as the Mediterranean and Baltic, so those areas tend to have regional agreements for MCS of international waters within those seas.

Components and related activities

MCS has aspects distinct from fisheries management, although there is overlap. According to the 2003 FAO paper on Recent Trends, fisheries management consists of:
  • Data collection and analysis
  • Participatory management planning
  • Establishing a regulatory framework
    • Input controls
    • Operational and output controls
  • Implementation

While MCS, in the basic FAO definitions, does not include enforcement, that category will be included here as part of the means of implementing MCS operations. In MCS discussions, there is a strong emphasis that the success of MCS is not to be measured in number of arrests, but in the level of compliance with presumably reasonable frameworks (i.e., the "control" part of MCS). If a sense of participation in the development of controls, as well as peer pressure, leads to meeting the fisheries management controls without a single arrest, the MCS program is successful.


A 1981 Conference of Experts defined monitoring as " the continuous requirement for the measurement of fishing effort characteristics and resource yields." This was expanded, in a 1993 workshop, to include the measurement of:
  • catch
  • species composition
  • fishing effort
  • bycatch (i.e., species other than the targeted one incidentally captured by the primary effort)
  • area of operations


According to the 1981 Conference of Experts, control are the "regulatory conditions under which the exploitation of the resource may be conducted." This is usually considered to consist of legislation, regulations, and international agreements. Each of these should describe the management measures required and the requirements that will be enforced. The actual enforcement mechanisms are not part of control.

Management criteria include:
  • Establishing designated fishing areas in which no fishing, fishing by vessels with permits, or open fishing is allowed.
  • Restrictions on fishing gear, including the banning of certain types on vessels in give areas, or controls on such parameters as the mesh size of fishing nets. These restrictions can be enforced only by physical inspection at sea or at dockside.
  • Catch and quota controls, by species or total take
    • Days at sea
    • Daily time at sea
    • Seasonal catch limits
    • Per-trip catch limits
    • Limits on catch within certain areas
    • Individual (vessel) transferable quotas
    • Minimum or maximum fish sizes
    • Bycatch
  • Vessel movement controls
    • Into areas
    • Exiting areas
    • Sightings in areas
  • Onboard observers
  • Licensing

Vessel inspections


Surveillance, according to the 1981 Conference of Experts, are "the degree and types of observations required to maintain compliance with the regulatory controls imposed on fishing activities." The Ghana workshop termed it the "regulation and supervision of fishing activity..." This definition does not clearly include enforcement.

Through surveillance, overfishing by authorized fishers and poaching by unauthorized fishers can be detected. Many systems are involved in the technical process of surveillance. Radar, including coastal, airborne, and spaceborne systems, may be intended for national security or law enforcement, but can simultaneously provide information to fisheries management and environmental protection authorities. Vessel monitoring system
Vessel monitoring system
Vessel monitoring systems are used in commercial fishing to allow environmental and fisheries regulatory organizations to monitor, minimally, the position, time at a position, and course and speed of fishing vessels. They are a key part of monitoring control and surveillance programs at the...

 principally intended for fisheries surveillance can provide critical information to search and rescue
Search and rescue
Search and rescue is the search for and provision of aid to people who are in distress or imminent danger.The general field of search and rescue includes many specialty sub-fields, mostly based upon terrain considerations...

 (SAR) under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea
International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea
The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea is an international maritime safety treaty. The SOLAS Convention in its successive forms is generally regarded as the most important of all international treaties concerning the safety of merchant ships.- History :The first version of the...

 (SOLAS) and its associated Global Maritime Distress Safety System
Global Maritime Distress Safety System
The Global Maritime Distress and Safety System is an internationally agreed-upon set of safety procedures, types of equipment, and communication protocols used to increase safety and make it easier to rescue distressed ships, boats and aircraft....



Enforcement ranges from self-regulation to onboard observers to patrol platforms (vessels and aircraft) to law enforcement activity.

Spatial Components

MCS implementation has sea, land, and aerospace aspects. Monitoring systems, such as Vessel monitoring system
Vessel monitoring system
Vessel monitoring systems are used in commercial fishing to allow environmental and fisheries regulatory organizations to monitor, minimally, the position, time at a position, and course and speed of fishing vessels. They are a key part of monitoring control and surveillance programs at the...

, may operate in all three of these regimes. These aspects also affect other maritime systems that can cooperate with VMS, such as Automatic Identification System
Automatic Identification System
The Automatic Identification System is an automatic tracking system used on ships and by Vessel traffic services for identifying and locating vessels by electronically exchanging data with other nearby ships and AIS Base stations...

s (AIS) with their specialized Vessel Traffic Service
Vessel Traffic Service
A vessel traffic service is a marine traffic monitoring system established by harbour or port authorities, similar to air traffic control for aircraft...

s (VTS), radar surveillance of the seas, and pollution tracking mechanisms.

Sea components

Perhaps the most basic component, aboard fishing vessels, are the logs
A logbook was originally a book for recording readings from the chip log, and is used to determine the distance a ship traveled within a certain amount of time...

 and catch reporting
Catch reporting
Catch reporting is a part of Monitoring control and surveillance of Commercial fishing. Depending on national and local fisheries management practices, catch reports may reveal illegal fishing practices, or simply indicate that a given area is being overfished....

 completed by the fishers themselves. Closely associated are reports prepared by onboard observers.

Also on the fishing vessel can be the shipboard components of vessel monitoring system
Vessel monitoring system
Vessel monitoring systems are used in commercial fishing to allow environmental and fisheries regulatory organizations to monitor, minimally, the position, time at a position, and course and speed of fishing vessels. They are a key part of monitoring control and surveillance programs at the...

 (VMS). These can be independent systems involving navigational and time input, embedded and dedicated computer
Embedded system
An embedded system is a computer system designed for specific control functions within a larger system. often with real-time computing constraints. It is embedded as part of a complete device often including hardware and mechanical parts. By contrast, a general-purpose computer, such as a personal...

, and radio transmission of reports. The transmission is usually via satellite, but some countries are using coastal VHF repeater systems.

VMS components can also integrate with other shipboard electronics. For example, if the report generation component is on a general-purpose personal computer
Personal computer
A personal computer is any general-purpose computer whose size, capabilities, and original sales price make it useful for individuals, and which is intended to be operated directly by an end-user with no intervening computer operator...

, that computer may also run a chartplotter
A Chartplotter is a device used in marine navigation that integrates GPS data with an electronic navigational chart . The chartplotter displays the ENC along with the position, heading and speed of the ship, and may display additional information from radar, automatic information systems or other...

 and various catch planning applications. The chart plotter function may be a general-purpose graphic display, presenting radar
Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

 or bottom sounder/fish finder
Echo sounding
Echo sounding is the technique of using sound pulses directed from the surface or from a submarine vertically down to measure the distance to the bottom by means of sound waves. This information is then typically used for navigation purposes or in order to obtain depths for charting purposes...

 data, perhaps merged with electronic charts.

Surface components

Catch inspectors, as well as electronic or hard copy filings of catch and other reports, are basic land components of MCS. Fisheries management authorities who make real-time decisions about opening or closing restricted fishing areas are usually on land, and will communicate their decisions on paper, using websites or electronic mail, and by voice radio.

Within a vessel monitoring system (VMS), the Fisheries Management Center (FMC) components are on land. Minimally, this is a regional or national center of the nation in whose waters the fishing is happening. Under the Flag Principle, the VMS of a vessel registered in a nation other than the coastal or EEZ nation of the fishing area will transmit to its national FMC, which will then relay the information to the FMC where the vessel is operating.

Patrol vessels may do visual or electronic surveillance of fishing vessels at sea, or may board them for spot inspections. Fisheries management vessels also may independently monitor fish densities in the areas of interest, water conditions, or other observations of interest for operations or research.

Aerospace components

Low-flying aircraft can visually identify fishing vessels, and, with reasonable navigational skills, determine whether a given craft is in an authorized area. This is aided if the fishing craft display distinctive identifiers.

Higher-flying aircraft using radar and other sensors can determine which vessels are in a designated open or closed fishing area, and the ashore FMC can correlate these observations with VMS data.

Communications satellites, in both low earth orbit
Low Earth orbit
A low Earth orbit is generally defined as an orbit within the locus extending from the Earth’s surface up to an altitude of 2,000 km...

 and geosynchronous orbit
Geosynchronous orbit
A geosynchronous orbit is an orbit around the Earth with an orbital period that matches the Earth's sidereal rotation period...

are the backbone of VMS communications with FMCs. Radar satellites can locate vessels in a far larger area than can aircraft, but have little or no ability to characterize the vessel.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.