A treaty was signed, new technologies were launched, and economic pressure put into place to fight global illegal fishing in 2016. Illegal, unreported and undocumented (IUU) fishing endangers legitimate fishing industries, undermines responsible fisheries management and threatens food security and livelihoods of local communities, particularly in developing nations. (photo – Robert Frerck)
Global treaty targets pirate vessels
The UN’s Port State Measures Act was passed in June 2016– an international treaty designed to combat IUU fishing by controlling port access by foreign vessels. The treaty calls for countries to deny port entry or take action and share information on any vessels that may be involved in IUU fishing.
According to legislators, this is the dawn of a new era to combat illegal fishing. (photo – www.India Alive Today)
Palau a test case for technology
IUU catches have been the focus in Palau in 2016 where President Tommy Remengesau has recognized the value of big fish to the country’s tourism industry. Palau established a shark sanctuary in 2001 and created a fully protected no-take sanctuary in 2015. But fish poaching in the island nation’s EEZ and marine protected waters remains a problem. (photo – scubadiving.com)
In 2016, Palau focused on pirate fishing ships, becoming a testing ground for some of the technology — including drones, military-grade radar, and Skytruth.org , a non-profit organization that uses satellite monitoring to help coastal nations track and arrest pirate fishing vessels. (photo – oceana skytruth)
A free Google app tracks illegal fishing worldwide
Skytruth.org is a partner with non-profit organization Oceana and internet giant Google in the newly launched Global Fish Watch – a real time website that tracks the positions of fishing vessels worldwide. The Global Fish Watch website can identify the boat, speed and direction to help authorities stop the decimation of the seas caused by illegal fishing. This is good for poor countries that lack adequate resources to protect their territorial waters from the 20 billion dollar seafood black market, where 1 in 5 fish consumed is illegally caught.
Thailand under pressure for fishing abuses.
Thailand’s 6.5 billion dollar seafood industry was under attack in 2016 for its IUU fishing fleets . Thailand was given a stern warning by the EU to clean up its act or face a ban if it doesn’t address a lengthy list of abuses – from slave labor and poor working conditions, to fishing in restricted areas and the use of illegal fishing equipment and methods like fish bombing . To show it is taking these threats seriously, the Thai government has made the sinking of illegal fishing boats quite the spectacle: see video
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