The fight against illicit fishing of the oceans is moving into space

Date: September 15, 2018

Source: The Economist

Illegal, unreported and unregulated. The business of off-the-books ocean fishing, abbreviated to IUU by international organisations, is a big one, worth many billions of dollars a year. Estimates of the annual catch landed beyond the authorities’ notice range from 11m to 26m tonnes. That is on top of an official catch of a bit under 90m tonnes a year. Given the belief of most fisheries scientists that even permitted extractions are doing great damage to marine ecosystems, this is worrying. But policing the oceans is hard, meaning that, more often than not, IUU fishermen get away with it.

This, though, is changing. New ways of watching from space may turn the tables on illicit fishing, heralding an era in which keen eyes follow every fishing boat, all the time. At the least, this will make clear who is turning a blind eye to the IUU brigade. The excuse that “we didn’t know what was going on” will become untenable.

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