1. Fisheries are
one of the main sources of providing nutrition to the mankind. It is a vital
ingredient of food, employment and even recreation and crucial to the economy
of some countries. Fishing is also a major livelihood of millions of people
across the globe. Fisheries play a crucial role in maintaining food and
economic security. Will there be sufficient fish for the future generations?
Are we, the present generation doing enough to use this important source in a sustainable
manner? We have a responsibility to conserve and manage world’s fisheries. Not
all fishing activities are conducted in a responsible manner. Some fishermen
and fishing communities do not respect rules and ethos governing fishing, whether
these rules are local or international. Some fishers impertinently overlook the
rules applicable for fishing gear, fishing methods and fishing areas. Some
fishing vessel owners ‘re-flag’ their vessels to flags of countries, which are
not strictly following rules. Some do not report catch. Some use very
destructive methods like, use of chemicals or explosive devices to take or
assist to take fish, bottom trawling, un-authorized nets, and these activities
are hindering and damaging management of world fisheries. Bottom trawling is trawling (towing a trawl, which is a fishing net)
along the sea floor. It is also often referred to as "dragging". The
scientific community divides bottom trawling into benthic
trawling and demersal trawling. Benthic trawling is towing a
net at the very bottom of the ocean and demersal trawling is towing a net just
above the benthic zone.
2. The rapid growth and globalization of the
fisheries sector have transformed not only global fishing patterns and operations
but also existing framework for fisheries management in a number of ways.
Despite the adoption of a conservation-oriented approach to the management of
fisheries resources, the deterioration of global fish stocks persists.
3. The decline of global fisheries resources has been
attributed to number of interrelated factors such as;
open access nature of many fisheries.
Environmental factors affecting stock
Over capacity in the world fishing fleet.
Provision of subsidies.
Unreliable fisheries information.
Unsustainable fishing practices; use of
nonselective fishing gear.
Non-compliance by fishing vessels; reflagging to
avoid fisheries restrictions.
Reluctance of flag state to ensure compliance by
their fishing vessels with fishing regulations.
failure of fishing authorities to set sustainable
limits on the basis of scientific advice.
Unreported and Unregulated fishing (IUU fishing)
Illegal When vessels operate in violation of the
laws of a fishery. This can apply to fisheries that are under the jurisdiction
of a costal state or high seas fisheries.
refers to activities conducted by national or foreign vessels under the jurisdiction of a state without
the permission of that state, or in contravention of its laws and regulations
that has been unreported or misreported
to the relevant national authority
or regional organization, in contravention of applicable laws and regulations.
fishing Generally refers to fishing by vessels
without nationality, or vessels flying the flag of a
country (flag of convenience) that is not party to the regional organization governing that fishing
area or species.
IUU fishing is a global phenomenon with
many detrimental environmental, economical, ecological and social impacts, a
fact that has led the international community to consider it a serious threat to
fishing is rampant in developing world.
countries often lack the resources to properly police their territorial waters.
fishermen are quick to exploit the situation.
fishing is bad news for legitimate fishermen everywhere.
illegal catches means that the catch data collected by agencies is incomplete
and likely to give a more optimistic assessment of the status of fish stocks
than is actually the case. This will result in failure to conserve stock. In
extreme cases, this can lead to a collapse of a fishery.
caught by both IUU and legitimate fishers are sold on the same markets, but
legitimate fishers pay higher operating costs from supporting fisheries and
fisherman flout rules, designed to protect the marine environment, including
restrictions on the harvest of juveniles, closed spawning grounds, and gear
modifications designed to minimize the by catch of non-targeted species.
inflict damages on sea-birds marine mammals, sea turtles, and marine bio
diversity as a whole.
8. Some IUU fishing vessels recruit
their crew members from States where there is a lack of alternative employment
opportunities and may be unaware of the vessels illegal operations. IUU fishing
is also known to cause the displacement of legitimate fishers. IUU fishing can
lead to reduction of employment and household income, both of which exacerbate
poverty, particularly among coastal and artisan fishing. Social impact studies
show that IUU fishing not only affects industrial fishing, but is also a
concern in small scale fisheries.
9. IUU fishing can take place in many
fisheries. This is causing immense problems to the governments, people and
fishermen, who are trying their best to govern and manage fisheries in a
sustainable manner. IUU can virtually ruin the fisheries. This can even lead to
the collapse of livelihood and economies of some countries. Those who are
engaged in IUU fishing gain an unfair advantage over responsible fishers. Exact
figures of IUU catches are not available and difficult to find, as most of them
do not declare their catch. The predicament is, when the fish catches are
declining, IUU fishing is likely to increase, resulting of complete elimination
of fish stocks. Normal effect of exploitation should be compatible with
sustainable use and reversible.
10. IUU fishing occurs throughout the world,
and is thought to account for up to 30% of global fishing. Some estimates
suggest that IUU causes annual financial losses up to about USD $ 23.5 Billion.
It is reported that, much of these activities are carried out by large
industrial fishing vessels which operate internationally. Illegal fishing
disrupts markets with unfair competition. It chokes the circle of compliance
that we try to establish, and it damages moral of law-abiding fisherman-Illegal
fishing is a criminal activity
11. IUU can also result in negative
effect on marine environment. Over-fishing of certain types of fish may result
in ecological imbalances and diminish the food source for another species of
fish. Decease and pests introduced through illegal foreign fishing can
devastate a country’s natural environment as well as its aquaculture. IUU
fishing often has a significant detrimental impact on the sustainability of
both targeted and non-targeted species and of the whole ecosystems and
vulnerable species such as corals reefs, turtles and
seabirds. In fact, all eight sea turtle species are now
endangered, and illegal fishing and hunting are two major reasons for their dwindling
population. Regulating legitimate fisheries is aimed at mitigating such
impacts, but IUU fishers rarely comply with regulations. This is likely to
reduce productivity and biodiversity and create imbalances in the ecosystem, agriculture,
and may impact severely on the economy and social stability. This in turn may
lead to reduced food security in communities
heavily dependent on fish as a source of animal protein.
13. Incursions by IUU fishing vessels into
the EEZ or at time even the territorial waters of a country, can affect its
ability to manage its natural resources, or pose a serious threat to her
security. IUU fishing can also lead to breaking of law and order situation,
challenging the jurisdiction of a country and could be linked to some form of
maritime crime such as narcotic/ Gun running, illegal migration.
14. IUU fishing can
take place by small vessels in their own waters, or in EEZ of other countries.
At times, fishermen resort to IUU fishing, merely to meet basic human needs.
Legitimate commercial fishing vessels can engage in IUU fishing, occasionally, to
maximize profits. The most obvious economic impact of IUU fishing on developing
countries is the direct loss of the value of the catches that could be taken by
local fisherman if IUU fishing was not taking place. In addition to this are
the losses of revenue from landing fees, license fees, and taxes payable by
legal fishers. IUU fishing
may also lead to reduced food security in communities heavily dependent on fish
as a source of animal protein. IUU fishing is a Global problem, which requires
a global solution. The first global review of IUU fishing, conducted in 2000,
identified major concerns within coastal state fisheries jurisdictions,
management areas of Regional fisheries organizations and the high seas. These
concerns include poaching, illegal fishing by vessels flying the flags of non-members
of Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) and misreported and
encourage fishers to engage in IUU Fishing?
15. Weak national governance structures and
Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) capacity to control ‘Foreign
fishing’ and to control IUU fishing by own nationals can encourage IUU fishing.
Un-delimited or disputed boundaries or close proximity to other countries EEZ
or territorial waters can also contribute to fishers to engage in IUU fishing.
Lack of economic opportunities and buoyant market conditions for seafood are
encouraging IUU fishing. Lack of a regional or bi-lateral structures and
agreement to govern fisheries could be another IUU fishing encouraging factor. The
argument of historical fishing grounds also being used by some IUU fishers to
engage in their unlawful act. Profitability of conducting IUU fishing
activities as a result of lower administrative and management costs, less crew
costs are also contributing to increased IUU fishing. Overcapacity in the world
fishing fleet, inadequate levels of penalties, corruption and poor economic and
social conditions are contributing to this menace.
vessels engaged in IUU fishing:-
A fishing vessel shall presume to be
engaged in IUU fishing if she;
not hold a valid fishing license
not provide or record catch date.
in a closed area.
unauthorized or endangered species.
prohibited or non-compliant fishing gear.
or conceals its identity.
or conceals evidence relating to an investigation.
the work of inspectors.
onboard, transship or lands undersize fish.
a stateless vessel; missing registration
out fishing activities in an area covered by a Regional Fisheries Management Organization
(RFMO), without complying with the conservation and management measures of that
organization or traditional fishing grounds are exploited by those who engage
in IUU effectively.
fishing is one of the most serious threats to fishing jobs and fishing
communities, as well as to the health of the world’s Oceans. Illegal fishing
destroys fish stocks and bio diversity. Fish stocks are either overfished or
subjected to sparsely regulated fishing efforts, as a result of IUU fishing and
inadequate flag state control. It recognizes the need for states - individually
and through Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) - to implement
effective port state measures and the importance of applying ecosystem
approaches to the management of human
activities in the ocean.
17. The main motive of illegal fishing
is financial gain. While some IUU fishing may be of smaller scale, there can be
large scale criminal activities of IUU fishing by organized networks. Money
laundering, product laundering, corruption and exploitation of poorer
communities could be some characters of this crime. Large scale illegal fishing
may involve transshipment of catches to conceal origin, repeated re- flagging
of vessels to avoid detection, bribing officials to turn a blind eye, and
mislabeling products. Due to the large scale of illegal fishing, collaboration
between governments, regional fisheries management organizations and
international organization is essential to curb the problem. Some IUU fishing
activities are also associated with the operation of transnational criminal
groups and other illegal activities such as fuel smuggling, fish smuggling, and
trafficking of fishing crews.
18. If fisheries laws cannot be enforced,
then they are worthless. Enforcement becomes difficult, if not impossible,
without effective surveillance of what is going on and where. As the FAO
international plan of action on IUU fishing puts it, ‘States should undertake
comprehensive and effective Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) of
fishing from its commencement, through the point of landing to final destination’.
The ability to act decisively once illegal activity
is detected is critical to combating IUU fishing. As the collection and sharing
of accurate and timely information on IUU fishing activity increases, the
monitoring of both legal and illegal operations is facilitated. Effective monitoring,
control, and surveillance are at the heart of effective fisheries management. But
regardless of the laws and regulations enacted and the technology brought to
bear on the IUU fishing dilemma, if the means and will to enforce those
policies is absent the illegal operators will prevail. Effective MCS increases
the risk of detection and prosecution for IUU operators, while giving the
economic advantage back to legal fishers. For developing States, a major
challenge in addressing IUU fishing is the limited operational capacity to
mange vast expanse of ocean spaces under their jurisdiction.
19. The presently available Law of the Sea
emphasizes the primacy of flag state jurisdiction, and the jurisdiction of the
port state, (the countries where the fish is landed) remains optional. This has tempted some port states
to take steps to attract the business of IUU fishing vessels.
Strengthening port state controls may
therefore, deter IUU fishing and improve
enforcement. Domestic legislations and mechanisms to coordinate action with
other port states, flag states and market states are also necessary.
20. Work done
by high profile NGO campaigns, through
effective media propaganda have drawn attention to the retailers and consumers
of the scourge of illegal fishing and the increasing fragility of many
Some super markets, caterers, restaurants have
banned certain fish products.
Involvement of celebrities in high profile
21. There can be trade measures to provide incentives to join
and comply with the agreements. These include, for example, prohibitions on
parties to the agreement allowing landing or transshipment of fish from the
vessels of non - parties, or non- complying states.
Flag State – the state where a vessel is registered and flagged – is the basic
legal entity for all high seas fishing vessels. Under international law, the
flag state has primary responsibility for controlling the fishing activities of
Many flag states fail to live up to their responsibilities
Many ships are registered in countries which bear no relation
to their ownership or crew.
Flags of convenience – well known for lax approach to
23 IUU fishing essentially arises from a failure adequately to
enforce existing national and international laws. There are, however many
factors underlying enforcement failure, including, notably, poor level of
national governance. There can be influence on the
governments by the IUU fishers to turn a blind eye when they are violating the
territorial limits of another state and even to defend their actions. There
are obvious problems with enforcing fisheries regulations on the high seas;
including locating and apprehending the pirate ships, but solutions are
available, chiefly through improved MCS systems. MCS systems are
similarly of value within exclusive economic zones, including, for example,
offshore patrols and licensing schemes.
way in which IUU fishing can remain undetected is by vessels transshipping
their catch at sea, thereby avoiding reporting the catch to either flag state
or the port state. Some of the important factors in this regard are;
Large vessels can remain
at sea for months.
Refueling & re
supplying at sea.
Transferring the illegally caught fish to another vessel at
sea, thereby avoiding entering port
with it. – Laundering illegally caught fish and then mixing it with legally
Calls for port states to effect all transshipments to take
place in a port or, at a minimum require that transshipment at sea is done in
accordance with proper controls and at locations where inspectors can be
present to check details of fish being transshipped.
By catch/ Discards
most fisheries, non – targeted species are caught alongside the targeted
species. Some of the non – targeted species may have a value and be taken to
port, but the greater portion of it will be unwanted and therefore discarded.
May include commercially important species that are not
wanted: may be fish are under- sized, over quota and not of
sufficiently high value to the fisher.
May also include non fish species, such as sea birds, marine
mammals or turtles
Amount of by catch may vary
But it is one of the key environmental impacts of fishing.
By catch estimated over 40% of global marine catches.
Worst methods producing by-catch are use of long line, purse
seine and bottom trawling
is often the case that the countries affected most by illegal fishing, and
where much illegal fishing take place, are those with the fewest resources to
tackle the problem.
Countries not only
loose livelihood for local people but revenues for governments.
This may affect finances to train officers operate effective
monitoring control and surveillance or to enforce law and policies.
products certification and catch documentation are increasingly used as a
natural extension of normal monitoring and enforcement in fisheries, and as a
means of excluding IUU products from consumer markets and thereby rewarding
responsible fishing with projected markets. This concept is increasingly common
in other markets, including those for Timber and for Diamonds.
28. Analyses show a
strong relationship between the level of governance of a country and its
vulnerability to IUU fishing. Good governance appears to go hand in hand with
good MCS systems and procedures, the political will to enforce regulations, cooperation
with neighbours on surveillance, the elimination of possibilities for IUU
activity, and active participation in regional and sub-regional fisheries
agreements. The consequences of good governance are a reduced threat to food
security and especially to artisanal fishers' livelihoods, but unless the aid
targeted at improving MCS is accompanied by efforts to improve scope of
governance, the potential benefits in terms of reducing vulnerability to IUU
fishing are likely to be undermined, particularly in the longer term.
European Union presents a comprehensive strategy to combat IUU fishing which
endangers the economy of the fisheries sectors, fish stock and marine
environment. The measures should include, restrict access to markets, and
provide for surveillance activities at sea, identification of IUU operators
improved implementation of legislation in the fisheries field and better
applications sanctions in the event of infringements being committed.
Only marine fisheries products validated as legal by the
relevant flag states or exporting state can be imported to or exported from the
A European black list has been drawn up covering both IUU
vessels and States that turn a blind
eye to illegal fishing activities.
EU operators who fish illegally anywhere in the world under
any flag, face substantial penalties proportionate to the economic value of
their catch, which deprive them of any profit.
The new EU regulations to prevent deter eliminate IUU fishing
entered into force on 01st Jan 2010.
general assembly resolution 61/ 105, abides states and Regional Fishery
Management Organizations (RFMOs) and other fisheries bodies to sustainably
manage fisheries, regulate bottom fisheries and protect vulnerable marine
a common fisheries policy, it is essential to
Ensure that only allowed quantities of
fish are caught
Collect necessary data for managing fish
Clarify the role of countries regional
organization to control fisheries.
Ensure that rules are applied to all
fishers in the same way.
Ensure that only permitted methods are
used for fishing
Ensure that fisheries products can be tracked back and
checked throughout the supply chain
from net to plate.
IUU vessel, denying them entry into ports, working with RFMOs to address IUU
fishing within each region that is managed by those who have signed RFM
curb/deter IUU fishing
31. The world has a
responsibility to curb IUU fishing for sustaining this most important resource
of the mankind. Some of the recommendations this paper presents are as follows;
- Adoption and implementation of adequate
legal and policy measures by states and regional organizations
- Implementation of a fishing vessel
registration and authorization to fish or licensing system
- Proper flag state enforcement
- Maintaining by flag states proper record
of fishing vessels including basic information and details of actual fishing
- Implementation of effective MCS measures
in the EEZ including licensing of foreign fishing vessels and establishing
Vessel Monitoring System (VMS)
- Obtaining advance notice of port entry
and implementation of fishing vessels inspections in port
- Implementation of eco-labeling and catch
- Review and revision of national
legislation and regional regulatory frameworks
- Strengthening of regional institutions
- Implementation of educational/awareness
- Implementation of boarding in respective
maritime areas and inspection through bilateral agreements
- Promoting good ocean governance and
- Formulating national plans to curb IUU