Auditor General’s observations on ineffective supervision on illegal fishing
The fisheries and aquaculture sector came under the lens of the Auditor General in a report presented to Parliament, in which he outlined shortcomings in supervision against illegal fishing by the enforcement sector of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department.
Despite international obligations, Malta is not implementing, in an effective way, the supervision on illegal fishing. In his report, Auditor General Charles Deguara mentions, among others, that few are the fishing boats who have the necessary monitoring equipment during fishing while at sea. The auditor said that this leads to significant risks of irregular fishing from being identified.
The auditor added that there is an imbalance in implementing inspections by the Department because it is focusing on a small number of sectors while other sectors are ignored. The report states that, among others, inspections on fish catches are made when fishing vessels return to port, however it is rare that inspections are made on fish being sold to consumers which, according to the auditor, are considered as one of the controls enabling the Fisheries Department to discover and take action against irregular fish catches.
The auditor’s office expressed concern on the human resources situation of the department and proposed that it introduces simplification measures in its operation so that the need for more persons decreases due to increased efficiency. The auditor called for more training to officers and improvement in the reporting system of inspections. The department’s information technology is robust, however he said it requires much work which reduces efficiency.
He stated that while practice norms permit, an entity which is considered as a regulatory corp should not be burdened with operational functions.