Illegal, Unreported & Unregulated Fishing
New tools to help eliminate IUU fishing
In this issue:
Global Record of Fishing Vessels
Greenpeace Blacklist
EU Regulations
IUU at Seafood Summit
Alliance Quick Links
Upcoming Events

Seafood Summit
1-3 February 2009
San Diego, California

GRI Seafood Workshops
20 January 2009, London

31 January 2009, San Diego

Welcome to the first new-look edition of afishianado, Seafood Choices Alliance's periodic e-newsletter. Each edition of afishianado will focus on a particular issue or event that is relevant to many of your activities and businesses. We welcome feedback and suggestions on the topics covered here, in order to better inform future editions.

Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU) and related activities remains one of the greatest threats to sustainable fisheries and those whose livelihoods depend on them.  The adverse ecological impacts of IUU fishing are wide ranging and include compromising the scientific basis of stock management, threatening the sustainability of fisheries that many depend on for food and income, and having a disproportionate impact on non-target species, habitat and ecology.   In addition to the well-documented environmental threats, IUU fishing also represents a significant business risk for those companies seeking to provide assurance and transparency to their customers.  There have been numerous calls for the development of new tools to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing.  This edition of afishianado highlights some of these new tools that will assist fisheries managers, seafood buyers and others in the quest to eliminate IUU fishing.
Global Record of Fishing Vessels
Improving Transparency and Traceability, Facilitating Risk Assessment, Improving Decision-making

IUU imageOne of the greatest obstacles to eliminating IUU fishing is the lack of access to information on fishing vessel identification, ownership and control.  This lack of transparency means there is no ability to trace vessels as they change name, flag, registration, ownership and operators.  Currently, there is no single source where basic information about fishing vessels of all sizes is contained or can be accessed.  If such a tool existed, companies and vessels acting illegally would find it much more difficult and costly to do business.

In February 2008 the FAO took steps to develop such a tool by hosting an Expert Consultation on the Development of a Comprehensive Global Record of Fishing Vessels, Refrigerated Transport Vessels and Supply Vessels.  FAO recommended the Global Record be pursued as a matter of high priority and be implemented as soon as possible.  

What Is the Global Record?
What Is the Global Record?
The Global Record is envisioned as an internet-based global portal / database where data and information on vessels from many sources is gathered in one location. The Global Record would be the window through which global vessel information can be accessed; it will be a publicly available one-stop shop with linkages to a variety of information and data sources such as international, regional, national and other vessel-related databases.  Some aspects of the Global Record are:
  • It will be a record of publicly available and relevant vessel information.  It will not be a vessel registry that confers rights or obligations.
  • The record will be objective, neutral and non-judgmental but may contain information and linkages to other vessel records, both authorised and unauthorised.
  • Users will make there own judgments and risk assessments based on the information contained in the Global Record.
  • The Global Record will draw on a range of publicly available information from a variety of sources to capture information on vessel activity, historical behavior, ownership and authorizations as well as information from monitoring, control and surveillance and port state records.
  • The Global Record will seek to use the broadest definition of "vessel" - encompassing as many as four million vessels - recognizing illegal fishing is a problem not only on the high seas but also in national zones.
Addressing the Growing Demand for Traceability in the Market, Facilitating Risk Assessment and Improving Decision-making
Increasingly, major importing countries and seafood buyers are seeking eco-labels and other forms of product certification that require full traceability of seafood products in order to reduce illegal and unsustainable activities and to help instil greater confidence within the seafood consuming public.  The importance of the Global Record is underscored by these new and growing market demands.  

Such market forces and incentives also provide a stimulus for countries to voluntarily provide information to the Global Record prior to any mandatory legal requirement being imposed. The Global Record would support existing binding and non-binding instruments to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU Fishing and increase the effectiveness of Port State Measures and MCS activities.

Overall, the Global Record would improve transparency and traceability. It would facilitate risk assessment for industry, regional fisheries management organizations and governments; and would improve decision-making on a number of fronts, including fleet capacity, size and structure, management, safety, pollution, security and statistics.  

Over the coming months, Seafood Choices Alliance is speaking to interested leaders to discuss implications and next steps for industry buy-in regarding the Global Record. If you would like more information, or would like to share your thoughts on the Global Record project, send an email to GlobalRecord@seafoodchoices.org.

Greenpeace launches online blacklist database of vessels and companies engaged in IUU fishing

Greenpeace LogoGreenpeace International recently announced the launch of a new blacklist database, found at http://blacklist.greenpeace.org. In creating this database, Greenpeace hopes to expose irresponsible fishing operators and the companies behind them.  

The website contains two different blacklists: the "Official Blacklist" and the "Greenpeace Blacklist".  Both lists include information on industrial fishing vessels and fishery support vessels, including motherships, refrigerated carriers and supply vessels.  The official list is compiled from publicly available registries of IUU vessels, such as those developed by regional fisheries management organizations.  The Greenpeace list goes further, publicizing information on vessels and companies that have been recorded engaging in IUU activities, but have not yet been blacklisted by an official body.  

Bloomberg reported: "We are very in favor of this list, it [pirate fishing] is a major problem,'' Francois Simard, an advisor on fisheries and maritime affairs at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), said in a telephone interview from Barcelona, Spain.

Greenpeace hopes this resource will serve as a compliance tool for national fisheries managers, as well as a traceability tool for seafood retailers and suppliers to ensure the legality of the fish they source.
New regulations adopted by European Union to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing
  EC flag
At the end of September, the European Union officially adopted new regulations establishing a European Community system to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing.  As the world's largest importer of fishery products - importing twice as much as the second largest importer - the European Community has recognized a responsibility to ensure that fishery products entering the EU do not originate from IUU fishing.

One key component of the new regulations relates to the requirement for catch certifications for improving traceability of products.  Catch certificates will identify where and by whom the fish was landed and the history of the product prior to entering the consumer market.  Processed products - which dominate imports and often allow for the 'laundering' of illegal fish given the multitude of handlers during processing - will now also fall within the scope of the new regulations.

The Regulation also provides for the creation of a list of IUU vessels and a list of non-cooperating third-countries, both of which will be made publicly available and will be updated regularly.

In regard to potential impacts on developing countries, the Commission intends to assist such countries with implementation of the regulations and establishment of sustainable and legal practices. Furthermore, the regulations will not go into effect until the beginning of 2010 in order to allow some times for countries to make necessary short-term actions to come into compliance.

The Regulation has not yet entered into force but will do so upon publication in the Official Journal of the European Union, and will apply from January 1, 2010. Click here to access a pdf version of the complete Regulation.
IUU, Traceability and the Seafood Summit

Much of the illegal fish found on markets in Europe and North America originates from developing world countries, due to a lack of traceability and the practice of other countries fishing in their waters under so-called 'flags of convenience'.  Such practices typically involve foreign, often untraceable vessels purchasing flags from other countries, particularly in Africa and Southeast Asia, and fishing in those waters illegally. A workshop at the 2009 Seafood Summit called 'Developing Confidence in Developing Trade' will address some of these concerns and highlight the need for partnership-based solutions to combat IUU fishing in the developing world.

Please email SeafoodSummit@seafoodchoices.org for further information.

Seafood Choices Alliance is an international program that provides leadership and creates opportunities for change across the seafood industry and ocean conservation community. We're about synergies and identifying creative solutions to long-held challenges. By building relationships and stimulating dialogue, Seafood Choices is encouraging and challenging all sectors of the seafood industry along the road toward sustainability.

SeaWeb Prog Logo