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Image: World Ocean Review / FIS

The scourge of illegal unreported and unregulated fishing

  (WORLDWIDE, 4/11/2023)

The following is an excerpt from an article published by Financial Express:

IUU Fishing is a global phenomenon, with much of it taking place in the developing world where fishing communities still follow traditional fishing practices, and are largely ignorant of the legal implications related to fishing.

Concentration of foreign ships. Source: Global Fishing Watch

At the recent Summit meeting of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, the informal grouping comprising Australia, India, Japan and the USA, concerns about maritime security in the Indo-Pacific were flagged with special reference to the proliferation of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing. IUU Fishing is not only regarded as the single most important non-traditional transnational maritime security challenge with the UN’s Food and Agriculture organisation(FAO) estimating the economic loss caused by IUU fishing at about US $ 23 Billion annually, which corresponds to about 20% of the global catch, but is also greatly detrimental to the maritime environment and the sustenance of the marine bio-sphere.

IUU fishing, as the name suggests, includes illegal fishing, which in turn is unlikely to be accounted for and hence remains unreported and since it is carried out largely by fishing vessels flying flags of convenience which are under no specific national jurisdiction, remains unregulated. Each of these is therefore mutually complementary, thus making IUU fishing a much greater threat, restricted not just to the poaching of fish and implications on depleting fish stocks and food security etc., but has larger implications in spawning other challenges generated by the loss of livelihoods and disaffected coastal populations being exploited by unscrupulous elements. The scourge of piracy off Somalia and took the efforts of almost 20 navies over five years to ring under control was partly due to the loss of livelihoods from fishing, with disillusioned youth being manipulated by large crime syndicates in the absence of an effective governance framework. These young men, attracted by a few dollars and the machismo of wielding an AK-47, took to the gun in their little fishing skiffs to seek huge ransoms which went elsewhere.

IUU fishing has a direct bearing on food security with legitimate fishermen being deprived of their catch, which can lead to the collapse of local small-scale fisheries, thus making them extremely vulnerable. This threatens livelihoods, exacerbates poverty and contributes to food insecurity.

Source: FAO

IUU Fishing is a global phenomenon, with much of it taking place in the developing world where fishing communities still follow traditional fishing practices, and are largely ignorant of the legal implications related to fishing. In the absence of an effective regulatory framework, corrupt practices, weak governance and capacity constraints, little attention is paid even by the state to educate or encourage them to adopt more modern practices. For many of these coastal communities, fishing is the only source of livelihood and sustenance, and therefore important for their survival.  Various global and regional initiatives to check the rapid depletion of fish due to rampant fishing and the adversarial effects of climate change on the world’s oceans is leading to a renewed effort towards creating a greater awareness of the long term implications of IUU. Keeping this in mind, the 2022 WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, which prohibits any subsidies being given to those involved in IUU fishing, has given a two-year transition period for developing and the Less Developed Economies (LDC).

Author: Commodore Anil Jai Singh | Financial Express | Read the full article by clicking the link here

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