Realization of high seas enforcement by non-flag states in WCPFC: A signal for enhanced cooperative enforcement in fisheries management
This paper aims to explore how the non-flag state high seas boarding and inspection (HSBI) scheme has been implemented in real settings, as well as to examine its effectiveness in enforcement and potential impacts on fisheries management. The methods of document analysis and semi-structured interviews were employed. The preliminary results showed that the scheme has been practically realized in the WCPFC, indicating that an exception to the high seas flag state control has been established for the sake of fisheries management. The results also revealed that the scheme has the potential to complement the lack of on-sight enforcement capacity of fishing states, enhance cooperative enforcement on the high seas, and implicitly elevate the level of compliance with relevant management measures by vessels. This paper also identified a potential loophole of the scheme, namely whether it has the necessary “teeth” to deal with the inaction of the flag states regarding their fishing vessels which have had foreign inspectors detect the violation of rules. To amend this loophole, devising a mechanism for allowing the WCPFC to warn or punish the flag states for such inaction in order to improve compliance, has been recommended. In addition, further studies on the effectiveness of the scheme and the link between the scheme and fishers’ behaviors in complying with management measures were also recommended.