Navigating transparency: A guide to accessing fishing vessel information and activities

Date: March 18, 2024

In the vast expanse of the ocean, illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing poses a significant threat to marine ecosystems, sustainable fisheries management, food security and livelihoods in coastal communities worldwide. Obscured ownership structures can facilitate the true perpetrators from not being held to account for such illicit practices. 

Tackling IUU fishing requires a clear understanding of who fishes what, how and where, highlighting the key role of transparency and access to information. Shedding light on beneficial ownership enables policymakers to identify who benefits from illegal activities and, by doing so, improve enforcement mechanisms, and foster greater collaboration among nations to combat IUU fishing and ensure the equitable and sustainable use of marine resources. 

That is why the Environmental Justice Foundation, Oceana, The Pew Charitable Trusts and WWF, members of the EU IUU Fishing Coalition, have collaborated with Access Info, an organisation that promotes transparency in Europe, on a comprehensive guide designed to empower civil society and journalists in their efforts to access information and hold governments and individuals accountable against their obligations under national, European Union (EU) and international regulations designed to preserve and protect marine resources.

The guide starts with a simplified presentation of the basic legal framework relevant to fishing vessel activities and equips readers with the tools to unveil crucial information through a step by step approach for submitting data requests to EU institutions and national authorities and accessing beneficial ownership information.

While the guide primarily focuses on the EU, it also provides references to relevant sources of information worldwide. 

Better access to information and more transparency can contribute to a healthier ocean and ensure more sustainable fisheries, benefiting both people and nature alike.

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