Management and enforcement should be thought of as two parts of a whole—without one, the other is incomplete and relatively meaningless. There are a number of examples worldwide where spawning aggregation management has been proactive, yet FSA decline and loss continue because of inadequate enforcement (e.g., Mexico, Palau, Pohnpei, Belize). Hiring enforcement officers, engaging the efforts of NGOs, engaging fishers, and recruiting volunteers (e.g., proactive fishers, dive industry) to maintain surveillance and report violators, is critical for effective fisheries management.
FSAs by nature are discrete in time and place, so on-site enforcement can, in many cases, be the most effective and efficient way to conserve them. In addition, seasonal bans on species can be regulated at fish processing facilities, while export bans can be enforced at shipping and receiving locations. The development of, and financial support for, adequate enforcement should coincide with any efforts to protect FSAs through management. Management and enforcement should be considered equal and complementary.
- In areas with a live reef food fish industry1, licensing of operators and regulatory oversight of exports is an important step in controlling the loss and depletion of FSAs. Local agencies should monitor all fishing activities, including onboard monitoring for the trade to prevent FSA fishing from occurring. The live reef fish food trade has been implicated in a substantial number of FSA losses throughout areas where it has operated, and is often implicated in illegal fishing outside of permitted areas. Indeed, the industry has not had a strong compliance track record. Countries that are not equipped to closely monitor this trade are discouraged from providing licenses.
- In some areas, enforcement responsibility resides within police and military operations; in others, natural resource officers and park wardens play a role. Traditional reef owners are the enforcement arm in many locales, such as the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea (Melanesia) and Yap (Micronesia) where customary marine tenure2 is still practiced.
- Co-management of reserves, between government, non-government entities and local communities has proved effective in many areas, and should be considered as a viable alternative to single agency management3.
- Controls on exports can be done via regulatory agencies at airports and shipping ports.
- While enforcement is often expensive and labor intensive, there is no means of replacing an FSA lost to fishing. Additionally, the economic costs of a lost resource greatly outweigh the cost of enforcement.