We need healthy oceans to support our way of life. Unfortunately, fish stocks are under growing pressure and the need to find innovative and pragmatic resource management strategies is more important than ever. Disregard for fisheries and environmental laws is common and if we are to succeed in reversing the declining trend, we must draft relevant regulations, design and fund comprehensive enforcement programs and cultivate a culture of compliance. Historically, marine law enforcement has been the competency of Naval and Coast Guard authorities; however, many fishery and park agencies, who lack training, equipment, and at times controlling legal authority, are tasked with fisheries management and enforcement. Complicating matters, most agencies are understaffed; lack budgetary resources, and possess limited authority (i.e. power of arrest and the ability to use force). WildAid in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy developed this guide to assist managers in designing a cost effective enforcement strategy for near shore artisanal fisheries. This document is not a recompilation of literature, but a practical guide based on our experience in the Eastern and Western Pacific. Generally, an enforcement system is designed to monitor all activities within a given area ranging from tourism, investigation, and transportation to fisheries; however, this guide will focus primarily on near shore artisanal fisheries. The objectives of this guide are three-fold:
1. Examine all factors considered for the design and operation of a marine law enforcement system; 2. Illustrate key components of an enforcement system and evaluate surveillance technology and patrol equipment options; 3. Guide managers in the design and implementation of an enforcement system.
In summary, it aims to equip managers with the tools needed to strengthen fisheries management and design enforcement systems that are practical, affordable and feasible to implement in a timely manner. Fisheries enforcement requires a holistic approach that accounts for surveillance, interdiction, systematic training, education and outreach and lastly, meaningful sanctions. Although it explores many surveillance technologies and management tools, this guide more importantly provides a blueprint for the capacity building and professionalization of enforcement officers, who truly are the core component of any fisheries enforcement program.