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IM-FiLEG| Sri Lanka project| Sri Lanka reports

Can Independent Monitoring help improve law enforcement of the fisheries sector?

Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing is one of the greatest threats to fisheries worldwide. While there are certainly difference between the fisheries and forestry sectors there are many commonalities when it comes to law enforcement and governance problems such as a lack of transparency, low investment in enforcement where it counts, imbalanced power relations between private and public sectors, out-of-date and impractical policies, absence of robust traceability mechanisms, and a lack of accountability within the senior echelons of government.

International efforts to counter the fishing sector problems include sustainability certification (Marine Stewardship Council), the establishment of Regional Fisheries Management Organisations, and, more recently, the passing of a new EU Directive on IUU fishing (EC1005/2008) that includes a certification scheme for legality. But a key gap in current initiatives is a process to fully understand the law enforcement and governance capacities of exporting countries. This is a serious problem because, under certification schemes such as the one proposed by the EC council regulation, certificates will have little credibility if little is known about the realities of law enforcement practices in a certain country. REM believes that our independent monitoring can help address this problem by providing credible and detailed information on specific enforcement and governance problems. For more details about our concept for an independent monitoring of fisheries law enforcement and governance (IM-FiLEG) download the concept note here.

If your organisation, government or company is involved in the fisheries sector and would like to discuss the development of an IM-FiLEG pilot programme in more detail, please contact us.

REM currently has started an IM-FiLEG project through the DFID Civil Society Challenge Fund in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka IM-FiLEG pilot project

A collaboration between Rainforest Rescue International (RRI) and REM aims to encourage good governance in the fisheries sector in Sri Lanka, with a special focus on tuna fisheries. This pilot project was designed to assess and develop the role of civil society. Over the 18 months of the project, RRI and REM have worked together to build an independent monitoring model that could make a real progress towards the following objective.


To make progress in three areas of fisheries sector, towards the sustainable development of the national fisheries industry:

  1. Management - to improve consistency and coordination within selected areas of fisheries policy and law, including at the provincial level.
  2. IUU fishing in Sri Lankan waters - to help create a better monitor and report system on IUU fishing by foreign vessels in Sri Lankan Waters.
  3. IUU fishing outside Sri Lankan water - to better inform fishers of international obligations and support mechanisms of control.


The Ministry of fisheries: information is forwarded to the Central Ministry via the provincial Ministry, informing it of the results of the reading committee meetings, highlighting enforcement actions that have been taken at the Provincial level by the administration and others. The rapporteur also communicates suggested enforcement and policy actions to the central government. Data generated by the monitoring operations can be used by research and management bodies such as NARA.

The Provincial Ministry of Fisheries: support is provided to the Provincial Ministry to establish a forum for a range of stakeholders to meet and discuss IUU fishing activities that have been identified through the monitoring initiatives mentioned below. The forum includes representatives of the provincial administration. The forum, sometimes called a Reading Committee, can meet once every 2 months and receive and provide information on fisheries enforcement to all stakeholders. This activity is provided in a broader context of a support programme to help selected provinces develop a provincial level fisheries policy, as previewed in the 1996 Act

The Fisheries cooperatives, coastal zone: awareness raising of the laws regulating coastal zone fishing and establishing systematic reporting mechanisms of fishing activity, including dynamite and moxi net fishing etc. Develop concepts of management and interactions between coastal and off shore fishing.

Rainforest Rescue International : the role of RRI in the project is to create the project structure in country and take the lead in finding funding, bring the actors together and facilitate the process of project implementation. This includes exploring further the potential to work with the Marine Stewardship Council and supporting organisations in Sri Lanka. Promoting best practice in the sector and supporting sustainable economic growth.

Fisheries sectors in Northern Indian Ocean countries: India, Maldives, Seychelles, Bangladesh and Pakistan

Projet outputs and reports

Developing the role of Sri Lankan civil society in IM-FiLEG
Sri Lanka IM-FiLEG investigation report 2012
Sri lanka IMFiLEG research questions
Strengthening Sri Lanka fisheries policy and management

Other Sri Lanka project documents

Letter from the Minister on IMFiLEG
REM presentation from monitoring forests to fisheries
Sri Lanka National Fisheries Policy Review
Sri Lanka fisheries policy and legislation

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