Carrier Vessel Portal Authorization Records

How is authorization data identified?

Global Fishing Watch (GFW) defines authorization in regards to public registry information. Where possible, historical authorization data was collected from the registry sources. In addition, all vessel records were obtained consistently since mid 2019. An encounter event by a vessel was considered to be authorized in the portal if the encounter event took place within the registry date range provided in the regional fisheries management organization’s public records.

Authorization Caveats

The structure of detail provided in a given registry differs by regional fisheries management organization. Therefore, there are caveats regarding the collection and interpretation of registry data for each one.

Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT)

The CCSBT registry includes ‘authorization entities’ that authorize vessels for differing periods of time. For the purposes of the portal, if a vessel is registered during the time of an encounter, regardless of specific ‘authorization entity’ it is considered authorized.

Inter-American-Tropical-Tuna Commission (IATTC)

IATTC provides a public registry of authorized carriers and fishing vessels, but the registry does not include explicit dates for each vessel authorization. Therefore, it is not possible to identify authorization periods. Since May 2019, GFW has updated records retrieved from the IATTC public registry on a monthly basis. GFW established an interpreted period of authorization since May 2019 using the window of time a vessel appears consistently on the registry’s monthly record. If there is a lapse greater than a month in the vessel record then the quasi-authorization period ends. For historical records and further identification of explicit authorization, GFW also obtained information from publicly available IATTC meeting documents detailing carrier trips in which observers were on board, and therefore assumed to be authorized during that period. 

International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT)

The publicly available ICCAT registry is currently being updated to reflect historical records. Therefore, GFW identified instances in which the Regional Observer Programme listed historical deployments of carrier vessels for transshipments during periods when they were not listed in the ICCAT registry. Therefore, GFW used the date ranges of current and historical carrier deployments listed in ICCAT observer reports in addition to the ICCAT registry as indication of authorization.

Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC)

Vessels flagged to Chinese Taipei are not included in the list of vessels provided by IOTC, as the flag is not a Commission Contracting Party to the organization. The list of IOTC authorized vessels can be acquired from Chinese Taipei’s fisheries administration. The fisheries agency produces a list of IOTC authorized fishing and carrier vessels, which was used to verify the authorization of potential transshipments in the carrier portal. It should be noted that at this time, the IOTC authorized carrier list only dates back to December 2017 and the IOTC authorized fishing vessels list only dates back to January 2017.

North Pacific Fisheries Commission (NPFC)

There are four separate NPFC registry lists publicly available online that are used to identify vessel authorization, both historic and current, and covering member flagged vessels and non-member carriers. For the purposes of the portal, if a vessel is registered during the time of an encounter, regardless of specific country ‘authorization by’ it is considered authorized. 

South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization (SPRFMO)

There are both a current SPRFMO registry list publicly available online, as well as pdfs of vessels registered historically by year that were used to identify vessel authorization. The ‘Date of Inclusion into SPRFMO record’ was used as the start date of an authorization period. 

Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC)

WCPFC periods of authorization were interpreted differently than other RFMOs. The Secretariat has continued to advise that a vessel listed on the Record of Fishing Vessels (RFV) with an “active” status indicates that the responsible flag State considers that the vessel is “entitled to fly its flag and is authorized to fish in the Convention Area” (see document WCPFC-TCC14-2018-RP05). Therefore, authorization under WCPFC was determined using the registry version date and the RFV status. The vessel is considered registered until the version date that the RFV status of a vessel is ‘deleted’.

Merging Authorization Data with Vessel Tracking Data

The authorization data is matched to the automatic identification systems (AIS) data using multiple vessel identifiers, such as a ship’s name, international radio call sign, International Maritime Organization number, and the Marine Mobile Service Identity number. If there are large discrepancies in the AIS vessel identifiers compared to the vessel identifiers provided in the registry, either due to lack of publicly available information or incorrect AIS use, the registry data may not match the AIS data. Therefore, it is possible that an authorized vessel may not appear to be authorized when in fact it is. For this reason, vessels are considered ‘authorized’ or ‘authorization not identified’. 

For more detailed information about the identity matching mechanism, please contact the Global Fishing Watch team at [email protected]. The portal will be updated with authorization information on a monthly basis to reflect information provided by RFMOs. The quality of the authorization data on the portal is constrained to the quality and quantity of information, as well as the interpretation of registry data, communicated by each RFMO. 


The vessel authorization information is determined using source information from the relevant tuna RFMO. Users are requested to consider this when making interpretations about the data accuracy and reliability.

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