The International Monitoring, Control, and Surveillance (MCS) Network was established in 2001 to provide a mechanism for fisheries law enforcement professionals to share information and experiences as they monitor the increasingly complex harvesting and marketing of fish around the world. The rise in illegal activities that has accompanied globalization underscores the need for cooperative law enforcement across national borders.
Since the end of the last century, there has been a global rise and proliferation of IUU fishing due to the globalization of the fishery industry and increased demand for fishery products. In 2001, consultations on IUU fishing culminated in the adoption of the International Plan of Action to prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IPOA-IUU). The IPOA-IUU has guided the international efforts to combat IUU fishing activities ever since.
About a year before the IPOA-IUU adoption, a commitment to form what would become the International MCS Network was made at an international enforcement conference, in Santiago, Chile in 2000 where representatives of Australia, Chile, the European Union, Peru and the United States drafted the “Declaration for Responsible Fisheries – Santiago 2000”, also referred to as the “Santiago Declaration.”
The Santiago Declaration invited all interested States and entities to participate in a meeting to be held before the next FAO Committee on Fisheries meeting in early 2001. Accordingly, in January 2001, the inaugural meeting of the International MCS Network was convened in Key Largo, Florida, U.S. By that time, the members of the Executive Committee included Australia, Canada, Chile, Peru, and the United States, all of whom were present, along with representatives of the European Commission and FAO. The original five drafters of the Santiago Declaration plus Canada are therefore considered the six co-founders of the International MCS Network.
The International MCS Network is an informal, voluntary network of States, regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) and regional economic integration organizations, as represented by the person or persons responsible for fisheries-related MCS. This includes fisheries managers, investigators, attorneys, foreign service officers, and forensics specialists, among others. Membership is currently limited to these categories, but the IMCS Network works closely with other intergovernmental organizations, in particular the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, and considers them important partners. Furthermore, the biennial conference organized by the Network, the Global Fisheries Enforcement Training Workshop (GFETW) is not limited to Network members.
Mission and Vision
The Mission of the International MCS Network is to promote and facilitate cooperation and coordination among Members through information exchange, capacity development and collaboration in order to achieve the improved effectiveness and efficiency of monitoring, control and surveillance activities in order to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing and related fisheries activities on local, regional and international levels.
The Vision of the Network is to be recognized as the principal point of contact, facilitator and foremost authority on all issues relating to MCS in order to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing and related fisheries activities on local, regional and international levels.
The Network pursues the following strategic objectives in order to achieve its mission
- Coordinate and encourage international cooperation on MCS and raise awareness of MCS issues;
- Facilitate increased information exchanges and collaborative MCS activities among members;
- Assist in strengthening the human and technical capacity of members to implement and maintain effective and efficient MCS schemes.
The IMCS Network fulfills its mission by, inter alia, hosting a wide array of fisheries law enforcement information through it website, organizing meetings, implementing trainings, and serving as a liaison among MCS professionals.