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International Day for the Fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing

The purpose of the International Day for the Fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing is to draw attention to the threats posed by IUU fishing activities to the sustainable use of fisheries resources as well as to ongoing efforts to fight these activities.

Seafood provides sustenance for billions of people worldwide, with approximately 3 billion people relying on seafood as their primary source of protein. Fish and fish products play a significant role in nutrition, containing many of the vitamins and minerals needed to address some of the most severe and widespread nutritional deficiencies. Even small quantities, fish contains essential amino acids, fats, iron, vitamin D, and calcium. (FAO and WHO, 2011).

The importance of fish does not stop at its nutritional value; the industry itself currently employs nearly 60 million people, with the majority of those employed by capture fisheries working in small-scale operations in developing countries. The first-sale value of all fisheries and aquaculture was calculated at $362 billion in 2016.

Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing

World fish stocks face rapid depletion from intensive legal fishing activities, but also from illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. IUU fishing refers to fishing activities that are not compliant with regional, national, or international fisheries conservation or management measures, and contributes to the destruction of marine habitats, the distortion of competition, and the weakening of coastal communities.

Illegal fishing refers to fishing activities that violate national or international terms. Examples of this include fishing without a license, keeping undersized fish, or engaging in the transhipment of fish.

Unregulated fishing refers to fishing activities in areas with no applicable national, regional, or international conservation or management measures.

Unreported fishing occurs when fishing activity has not been properly recorded, often due to lack of data collection or poor management.

While IUU fishing is a global problem accounting for roughly 15% of total catches annually, it occurs most often in high seas pockets or areas outside of a country’s EEZ. Due to its clandestine nature, generating a reliable and comprehensive global figure of the precise volumes and value of IUU fish catches is nearly impossible. It is for this reason that the IUU Fishing Index was created at the start of 2019.

The Index provides a measure of the degree to which states are exposed to and effectively combat IUU fishing. The IUU Fishing Index provides an IUU fishing score for all coastal states of between 1 and 5 (1 being the best, and 5 the worst). The Index allows countries to be benchmarked against each other, and assessed for their vulnerability, prevalence and response to IUU fishing.

Over the years, fish stocks have deteriorated drastically due to overfishing. Further decline in fish stocks continue today due to IUU fishing practices and because many flag states do not have the necessary resources to manage their coastlines and EEZ’s

The societal impact around the world has been devastating.

Coastal communities that have for generations had fishing as a livelihood can no longer stay in business and must find other ways to support their families and the local community.

In a report for the Center for Strategic & International Studies and National Geographic, authors Gregory B. Poling and Conor Cronin explain how IUU fishing impacts national security in two ways;

  • “First by directly supporting illicit networks engaged in the trafficking of narcotics, weapons, wildlife, and people, along with other maritime crimes [...]”
  • Second, “[by damaging] local livelihoods and food security, creating more fertile recruiting grounds for piracy, organized crime, armed insurgency, and terrorism in affected communities.”

How can Pole Star help?

Pole Star is widely recognised as a leading provider of fisheries Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS), Vessel Tracking Unit (VTU), and satellite airtime (VMS reporting services) to the regulatory and commercial fisheries sector. Since 1998 we have continued to serve multiple government agencies, RFMOs, fishing companies, and fishermen worldwide.

Today, we support the wider fisheries sector, and have provided VMS services to several clients, including:

  • Australian Fisheries Management Agency (AFMA)
  • Connecticut Dept. of Agriculture, Division of Aquaculture – United States
  • INMARBE Belize High Seas Fisheries - Belize
  • Department of Fisheries – Thailand
  • South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA)
  • Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DIPRD) - Western Australia
  • Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) - Queensland

In the past, we have also worked with the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), and the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

We work closely with our Government and flag state clients to provide cutting edge technologies to help mitigate against IUU practices and implement seafood traceability solutions for fisheries compliance.

Pole Star provide a broad array of business applications, satellite communications services, and specialised VMS hardware kits to industry. Over 2500 VMS users utilise our services presently and are backed up by a dedicated and professionally seasoned team of in-country professionals.

Find out more about we can can do for you.