Eyes of the Fleet

Eyes of the Fleet

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Billion Dollar Fishing Piracy

The Australian government says "fishing piracy" is a billion dollar crime:
A report released Tuesday exposed a global scheme of illegal fishing, or piracy, that produced a billion dollars in revenue and is said to be thriving worldwide, according to the Australian government's findings.

The pillaging of threatened fish stocks, human rights abuse and global pirate fishing operations worth more than a billion dollars are documented in a report sponsored by the Australian Government, the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) and World Wildlife Fund.

The report, The Changing Nature of High Seas Fishing: How Flags of Convenience provide cover for illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing reveals the link between illegal fishing operations in the world's oceans and countries that offer cheap registration services, or flags of convenience (FOC), to fishing vessels. The FOC system provides a perfect cover for IUU fishing, which is estimated by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization to account for 30 percent of total catches in some important fisheries. The report's recommendations are highly relevant to the deliberations of the international community at the 60th United Nations General Assembly meeting. The meeting will consider a sustainable fisheries resolution dealing with IUU fishing and FOCs -- this is an opportunity for countries to deal with these difficult issues.

In addition to threatening the world's fisheries, bycatch -- the incidental capture of non-targeted species -- from pirate fishing operations is a serious threat to sea turtles, albatross, sharks and a range of other species, according to the report.
Note this:
Belize, Honduras, Panama and St Vincent and the Grenadines top the list of FOC countries with the largest number of large-scale fishing vessels registered to fly their flag.

"We urgently need an end to the corrupt system that allows fishing vessels to buy flags of convenience and operate illegally and without regulation on the high seas," said Dr. Claude Martin, director general of WWF. "Flags of convenience countries, some of them landlocked, register fishing vessels in exchange for a small fee, while often turning a blind eye to illegal activities and exercising little or no control over how these ships operate."

More here.

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