Post Implementation Benefits Audit of FISHCANA Fisheries Data Management System

(Press Release) The Office of the Auditor General is pleased to announce that its Audit Report entitled A Post-Implementation Benefits Audit of FISHCANA Fisheries Data Management System was presented to the Legislative Assembly on 26 July, 2022.

The Ministry of Agriculture lost all of its historical fisheries data being housed by the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism’s database CARIFIS, when the database stopped working in late 2012/early 2013.
Consequently, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), in partnership with the UK Government, initiated a project namely, the fisheries data management system called FISHCANA at Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Housing and Environment (MALHE), aimed at improving Montserrat’s capacity to store, to manage, to use and to analyse data.

Key Observations and Findings
[1] The FISHCANA system is very user-friendly and the database can be accessed via a web browser from any ICT device once there is Internet or Wi-Fi access. However, the FISHCANA system is not currently being used for the collection of fisheries data, owing to issues related to software and hardware. Therefore, the Fisheries Technicians (FT) have reverted to the traditional (partly manual, partly computerized) method of collecting and recording the local fishers’ catch and effort data.
[2] The FISHCANA software is owned by Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC); but, legally, the collected fisheries data that are being entered and stored in the FISHCANA database and used for analysis, are owned by the fishermen and not by the Government of Montserrat. Reportedly, the fishermen’s permission was never sought, since the advent of the FISHCANA project.
[3] The CAP 9.01 Fisheries Act of 2013 does not enable the Chief Fisheries and Ocean Governance Officer to register Montserrat’s fishermen and to certify fishing vessels, as there are no set fees. The Officer is also not trained to assess the seaworthiness of fishing vessels to enable certification. 134 registration applications for 89 fishermen and 45 fishing vessels have been pending since 2017. In the absence of registration and certification, all fishing activities and the operation of fishing vessels in Montserrat’s waters, are technically illegal. The Fisheries and Ocean Governance Unit (FOGU) has been in the process of updating the Fisheries Act for a number of years.
[4] The collection of the fisheries data is ineffective and inaccurate, because of several contributory factors such as: (a) poor data collection protocols, (b) lack of co-operation by some of the fishers, (c) transportation issues affecting the Fisheries Technicians, and (d) data are not being collected after working
hours, on weekends (when a lot of the fishermen go to sea) and (5) no data are being collected from the other three landing sites,.

Key Recommendations
For the Fisheries Unit to achieve effective, reliable and accurate collection of data, the following and other key changes need to be urgently actioned such as:

[1] The soonest enactment of the updated Fisheries Act.
[2] The consistent enforcement of the Act, including (a) the registration of fishers, (b) the certification of fishing boats, (c) the collection of relevant fees, and (d) effective interagency co-operation with the Marine Unit (Coast Guard), with the Customs and Excise Division, and with the Montserrat Port Authority, to safeguard
Montserrat’s waters.
[3] Adjusting of the Fisheries Technician working hours.
[4] Dedicated transportation for the FOGU.
[5] A comprehensive upgrading of the approach to fisheries management, including (a) the monitoring of all four landing sites, (b) the precise measuring and recording of catches, and (c) co-ordination with fisherfolk.
The full audit report highlights several other findings, recommendations, and management responses. The implementation of recommendations will bring significant improvements.
The report in its entirety can be found at the Montserrat Public Library, on the Office of the Auditor General Publications Page or by requesting an electronic copy from the Office of the Auditor General, located upstairs Angelo’s Complex, Brades. E-mail:; Telephone: (664) 491 – 3460/4569.

Read the report here.