Shining a spotlight on illegal fishing

Baku, November 22 (AZERTAC). In a bid to shed new light on the shadowy world of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, an FAO Technical Consultation has agreed to identify a structure and strategy for the development and implementation of the Global Record of Fishing Vessels, Refrigerated Transport Vessels and Supply Vessels, FAO said today.

The recommendations will be presented to the January 2011 meeting of FAO`s Committee on Fisheries for approval.

IUU fishing remains one of the greatest threats to sustainable fisheries and the millions of people whose livelihoods depend on them. While no exact figures are known, it is widely accepted that the scale of illegal fishing is huge - one recent study estimated that it could be worth an estimated $10-23 billion dollars annually.

One of the greatest obstacles faced by fisheries authorities and regional fisheries management organizations as they seek to detect and eradicate IUU fishing, is a lack of access to even basic information on fishing vessel identification, ownership, control and activity.

This provides easy passage for the criminals backing IUU fishing because their vessels can move about at will, change flag and identity, and vary the owner and operator details so that legitimate authorities find it virtually impossible to track them,

The recommendations that have been developed are designed to create a Global Record that will remove this lack of transparency and strongly compliment existing tools and measures available to combat IUU fishing by providing a single web-based portal through which information such as vessel identification, capability, capacity, history, ownership and activity can be easily accessed.

The information is currently available to varying degrees within national jurisdictions but this project offers the International community the opportunity to cooperate in a way that can really make a difference.

The Global Record will include not only fishing vessels, but also refrigerated transport vessels and supply vessels which support fishing vessels at sea. Such vessels are often integral to IUU fishing operations.

The Record will also apply to vessels in all areas of operation including the high seas and waters under national jurisdiction. This recognises that the majority of IUU fishing actually occurs in waters under national jurisdiction and much of that illegal catch can end up as an export commodity.

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