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18th Apr 13Managed by Chatham House
Financed by DEFRA
The Seventh Chatham House Forum on IUU Fishing
Chatham House hosted the Seventh International Forum on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing last week. This conference always attracts a wide range of delegates from all over the world. Again this year there were representatives from the European Commission and Parliament, fisheries ministers, workers from enforcement agencies, NGO activists and people directly involved in the seafood trade.
Richard Benyon kicked the conference off by reiterating the UK's resolve to eradicate IUU fishing. He highlighted the UK's work with Commissioner Damanaki in redefining a more sustainable Common Fisheries Policy for Europe. He suggested that the next "Fish Fight" might be aimed outside EU waters, where illegal and unsustainable fishing persists, partly through the misuse of Fishing Partnership Agreements by European vessels.
The European IUU Regulation and the procedures surrounding catch certification were discussed by many of the speakers. The Commission representative explained that his office was busy investigating non-compliant flag states and was "in discussion" with twelve states. The implication is that if these states did not satisfy the Commission that their vessels were properly policed, they would end up on a black list later this year. A vessel black list, as required by the IUU Regulation, was also in preparation.
While industry is keen to have assurances that the fish it handles is traceable and legal, as explained by Hans-Jrgen Matern from The Metro Group (retailer consisting of Metro, Makro and others), the IUU Regulation is awkward to implement and administer. Independent researcher, Gilles Hosch, explained the various difficulties he encountered while assisting ten flag states comply with the requirements of the IUU Regulation. The regulation, Commission guidance and associated notes are challenging to interpret or implement. In particular it is difficult to guarantee the safety of split catches and processed products, with the current system and in the absence of central accounting of quantities. I couldn't help thinking that the industry had foreseen these very difficulties when the regulation was still being written. Thankfully, a full review of the IUU Regulation will start this year, and hopefully this will give rise to new, less administration-heavy, more streamlined procedures by 2013.
Many of the speakers were critical of certain Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs). Shelley Clarke examined their catch documentation schemes and found most of them lacking in practicality, transparency and effectiveness. For example the ICCAT (the group responsible for the conservation of Atlantic Tunas) programme covers only 50-60% of the catch. In contrast, CCAMLR, the group responsible for the conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources - which oversees toothfish fishing in the Antarctic - tallies catch certificates (verified by Vessel Monitoring System information) with the entire allocated quota. The current vessel blacklist that the RFMOs administer covers just 88 vessels, which most delegates agreed was a small fraction of the total.
Combating IUU fishing is not just about checking paperwork but also about patrol boats, pirates, petty corruption, organised crime and money laundering. The Environmental Justice Foundation was involved in uncovering illegal fishing off Sierra Leone. These activities were damaging the livelihood of coastal villagers, who rely almost entirely on artisanal fishing. In the Indian Ocean, the Seychelles has suffered a severe fish shortage since December 2011 following a hijacking incident by Somali pirates. Alexia Taveau from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime gave a chilling presentation of how "marine living resource" crimes are linked to piracy, human trafficking, drug trafficking and gun running. Speakers and delegates agreed that many of the crimes, including IUU fishing, could be attributed to "flag state failure": the inability of flag states to exercise control over their flagged vessels.
Another reason given was the current reluctance for ports to exercise better control over vessels wishing to use their facilities. According to Pew, port authorities perform poorly when faced with vessels that are suspected of illegal activities, even if they are blacklisted. The FAO's Agreement on Port State Measures to combat IUU has recently received widespread support from several countries, including the EU. There are inevitable delays in incorporating the requirements into national legislations, but over the coming years the agreement should provide another tool with which to deter IUU fishing.
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Impacts/Development, communities and livelihoods
Issues/Chain of custody / Supply chain management
Issues/Governance / management
Issues/Monitoring, control and surveillance
Issues/Port state issues