Source: The Diplomat
Author: Sally Yozell*
EJF published a new report showing that the global fishing industry suffers from a shocking lack of transparency, allowing Illegal operators to create as much confusion as possible around their identities; escaping detection by changing vessel names; concealing ownership; flying different flags to avoid detection; or removing ships from registers entirely. This report lays out the ‘ten principles for global transparency in the fishing industry’. These simple, low-cost measures – which include publishing license lists and giving vessels unique numbers – are well within the reach of any country and can play a pivotal role in the battle against illegal fishing and human rights abuse in the sector.
Source: The Maritime Executive
Thailand has become one of the first countries in Southeast Asia to publish a full list of all its registered and licensed fishing vessels, alongside a watchlist containing vessels prohibited from fishing. Making such information freely available is a crucial step in eradicating illegal fishing and human rights abuse in the industry, and marks Thailand out in the region for taking this progressive step, says the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF).
Much of the fishing industry is at best opaque, and at worst operates under a veil of secrecy, says the EJF. Illegal operators aim to create as much confusion as possible around their identities, escaping detection by changing vessel names, concealing ownership, flying different flags or removing ships from registers entirely.
The lists have been published in an attempt to grapple with these problems. The Thai Marine Department website now lists 10,742 vessels eligible to fish in Thai waters. This list contains vital information such as each vessel’s registration number, owner’s name, and port of registration. Thailand’s fishing fleet has been an unknown quantity, with vessel figures varying hugely depending on the data source. For instance, while government statistics for 2015 put the number of registered vessels at 18,089, other government sources declared the figure closer to 57,000.
Author: Veerle Nouwens* and Cathy Haenlein**
China has reportedly started cracking down on its distant water fleet (DWF), namely, its fleet of vessels that fish in areas outside the country’s domestic waters. The move has come as a surprise to fishing companies and the counter-illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing community alike given the country’s previous apparent reluctance to tackle illegal activity in its domestic fishing industry. However, further momentum can be seen through the recently signed EU-China Blue Partnership for the Oceans, which includes a commitment to tackling IUU fishing. If China’s efforts are sincere, they should be applauded. However, the potential knock-on effects of such a move should also be considered. First, how will China tackle IUU fishing where maritime borders are disputed? Secondly, how might China’s crackdown on Chinese fishers impact Taiwanese fishers abroad at a time of heightened tension between China and Taiwan?
China’s role in the global IUU fishing problem is well-documented. According to a 2018 study by Global Fishing Watch, China’s fishing operations are the world’s largest and farthest-ranging. Greenpeace estimates that China’s DWF is comprised of 2,500 vessels; in 2016, Chinese-flagged vessels were seized off South Africa and Argentina, among other locations. These represent only a fraction of the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) worldwide in which Chinese-flagged vessels operate illegally. In addition to poor controls in these countries, ChinaDialogue Ocean notes that enablers of IUU fishing by China’s DWF lie in rapid growth and poor regulation, weak global enforcement, the provision of fuel subsidies by the Chinese government, and inadequate port checks on incoming vessels and catch.
Author: Nicki Holmyard
One in four fish in Africa is still caught illegally, despite the efforts of many African nations to overcome the problem.
According to the organization Stop Illegal Fishing, an independent non-profit based in Africa dedicated to ending illegal fishing in the continent’s waters, ongoing efforts are being made by the majority of African maritime states to end illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, but greater momentum is needed if the “New Frontier of African Renaissance” – hailed by the African Union earlier this year – is to come to fruition.
IUU fishing is threatening the sustainability of fish stocks, damaging the ecosystem, depriving governments of income, and African people of their livelihoods, according to Peter Thomson, United Nations Special Envoy for the Ocean. And the scourge of IUU is affecting a majority of African nations; 38 of the 54 African countries have coastal borders and many inland countries have vast lakes, which are also affected by illegal fishing and poor fishing practices.
The issue of IUU in Africa has been well-studied, and numerous solutions have been proposed. A report in 2016 by the Overseas Development Institute and Spanish research and journalism group PorCausa used satellite tracking to monitor the methods and scale of the problem, pointing out that transhipments, lack of inspection of containerized shipments, inadequate legal frameworks, poor technology, and a lack of political will were all partly to blame. The report estimated that by developing and protecting Africa’s fisheries, around USD 3 billion (EUR 2.6 billion) could be generated in additional revenue and some 300,000 jobs created.