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18th Apr 13Managed by Chatham House
Financed by DEFRA
Illegal fishing crackdown not working
International attempts to curb illegal fishing activities are not working, a group of researchers have warned.
The research, published in the journal Science, found that sanctions against vessels known for illegal fishing are not widely enforced and there are loopholes that allow them to escape penalty.
Kristin von Kistowski, a marine biologist and one of the report's authors, said tracking ships involved in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing — or IUU fishing — is difficult because there is no centralized list of vessels that flout fisheries regulations.
He said: ""The current system leaves significant loopholes that those who are engaged in IUU fishing can exploit. By creating this first comprehensive overview of port state performance, we have identified the weaknesses and problem in the system."
Seven months ago, in an effort to strengthen measures to tackle IUU fishing, the UN approved a legally binding Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA) that would require the "port state" to close its ports and ban the landing of fish of any vessel listed as being involved in illegal or unregulated activities.
But so far, 15 nations and the EU (regarded as a single nation for this purpose) have adopted the PSMA. However, it needs but it needs 25 nations to ratify the agreement in order for it to take effect.
Mr Von Kistowski said they also found that when IUU-listed vessels visited a port, officials followed through with sanctions in only one out of four cases.The report's authors said they wanted to evaluate the effectiveness of current measures in advance of a United Nations agreement to clamp down on overfishing.
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