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Focus on IUU Fishing and Transnational Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry Featured

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Documentation of illegal catches is needed to properly estimate economic impacts of IUU fishing Documentation of illegal catches is needed to properly estimate economic impacts of IUU fishing Photo: National Fisheries Authority (Jamaica)

 

CRFM Member States highlight Caribbean Instruments and new Norway collaboration to address Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and Transnational Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry

 

Published Thursday, 4 August 2022 by the CRFM Secretariat

 

Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported Fishing (also called IUU Fishing) has been on the radar of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and its seventeen (17)  Member States for more than a decade. The commitment of the CRFM and its Member States to address this very challenging and persistent problem has been unwavering, and the timeline below features the major milestones attained over the past 12 years–the most recent of which is the CRFM’s support of the International Declaration against Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry (also known as the Copenhagen Declaration) and the Norwegian supported Blue Justice Initiative. 

These provide an international framework which complements the Caribbean framework, developed under the auspices of the CRFM, guided at the policy level by its Ministerial Council. 

At a side event at the UN Ocean Conference, held in Lisbon, Portugal on 29 June 2022, the CRFM co-hosted a panel with the Blue Justice Secretariat, Norway and the Blue Justice Initiative on Caribbean and international efforts and mechanisms for combating IUU fishing and transnational organized crime in the global fishing industry.

 CRFM and Norway Collaborators at UN Ocean Conference Side Event Jun 2022

 

"It is a very difficult problem that requires enhanced regional and international cooperation and collaboration to effectively eradicate."

 - Dr. Gavin Bellamy, CRFM Representative (Jamaica)


 

Dr. Gavin Bellamy, Chief Executive Officer, National Fisheries Authority, Government of Jamaica, affirmed that “...governments [in the Caribbean Community - CARICOM] have accorded high priority to combating fisheries crime in the region. It is a very difficult problem that requires enhanced regional and international cooperation and collaboration to effectively eradicate.”

Dr. Gavin Bellamy

Dr. Gavin Bellamy

Photo courtesy: Ministry of Fisheries and Ocean Policy, Government of Norway

 

He said that, “The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) has been coordinating regional efforts to prevent, deter, and eradicate IUU fishing and crimes in the fisheries sector.” He added that despite the progress made, there was still a long way yet to go.

H.E. Bjørnar Selnes Skjæran, Minister of Fisheries and Ocean Policy, Government of Norway, describes IUU fishing and transnational organized crime in the global fishing industry as a threat to our common future. He cautioned that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will not be attained unless this problem is addressed.

"Through the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism in CARICOM, no less than 12 [Caribbean] countries have decided to join the [Copenhagen] Declaration… In May 2021, the Caribbean ministers started with a resolution endorsing the Copenhagen Declaration and pledging support for the Blue Justice Initiative as frameworks for regional and international cooperation to combat organized crime in the fishing industry,” H.E. Bjørnar Selnes Skjæran said.

 Bjørnar Selnes Skjæran-2

H.E. Bjørnar Selnes Skjæran

Photo courtesy: Ministry of Fisheries and Ocean Policy, Government of Norway 

 

The Caribbean countries are among 48 signatories to the declaration, which was first endorsed in 2018. Since then, Norway–which hosts the secretariat for the Copenhagen Declaration and the Blue Justice Initiative–has led the charge in supporting international efforts to implement the declaration. Its partnership with the CRFM and its Member States took root at Our Ocean Conference in 2019–when the the Blue Justice Initiative was launched–and since then, the CRFM and Norway have continued to partner to address this global problem.

 CRFM-signatories-to-the-Copenhagen-Declaration

Map © 2022 CRFM

 

 

Mr. Gunnar A. Stølsvik-2

Mr. Gunnar A. Stølsvik

Image: CRFM

 

Mr. Gunnar A. Stølsvik, Specialist Director, Fisheries Department at the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, said that the Copenhagen Declaration is a political statement and not a legally binding instrument. He added that the declaration recognizes the relevance of the entire fisheries value chain: from capture, to handling and processing, through to sale and the financing of operations.

“To build a [sustainable] blue economy, you have to make sure that the shadow blue economy does not occupy too much of a big space in that economy,” he said.

 

FOCUS ON CARIBBEAN ACTION TO ADDRESS IUU FISHING AND ORGANISED CRIME IN THE FISHING SECTOR

Caribbean Action Timeline on IUU Fishing and TNOC-2022

 

JAMAICA

"There is no simple, no single, no short-term solution to IUU fishing… or to the related organized crime and the networks focusing their commitment and efforts in keeping… the status quo,” said Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr, MP - Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, The Government of Jamaica. He added that successful responses will require a holistic and integrated approach where policies are linked to the drivers of IUU fishing.”

 Hon. Pearnel Charles-2

Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr, MP

Photo courtesy: Ministry of Fisheries and Ocean Policy, Government of Norway

 

Minister Charles proposed that Jamaica could serve as the regional Blue Justice hub for the Caribbean, and that the sub-regional office for the Blue Justice Initiative could be established in that country.

He said that support within the region and beyond is required to assure success, including independent action by States, bilateral action by adjacent states, and multilateral action by all parties involved in the fight.

The Minister outlined some key actions by Jamaica:

  • Commence implementation of a vessel monitoring system for industrial fleet, with the intent to roll out to the small-scale / artisanal fleet;

  • Strengthening geospatial capacities, including the development of coastal radar mapping capabilities; and the staff of the National Fisheries Authority joining the Blue Justice Initiative and gaining access through secure log-ins to collaborate with others regionally and globally;

  • Advancing efforts to accede to the Port State Measures Agreement, which the Minister said can act as a deterrent by denying services to vessels found to be involved in IUU fishing;

  • Strengthening enforcement capacity through investments in resources for patrol and maritime surveillance;

  • Adopting regional and international arrangements and implementing agreed measures that are consistent with international law.

 

Minister Charles noted the devastating toll that IUU fishing has had on Jamaica, as well as the world. He said that the scourge of poaching, especially by foreigners, “has caused Jamaica billions of dollars in lost earnings and has prevented thousands of Jamaicans from accessing gainful employment.” He said that Jamaica has suffered annual losses of $6 million in direct export earnings and 5,500 jobs, which has had a multiplier effect on families. The country had put in place a 2-year moratorium on the Queen Conch fishery due to poaching, primarily foreigners. 

According to Minister Charles, it is estimated that catches from IUU fishing constitute more than 30% of reported catches, but for some species, IUU fishing may account for up to 3 times the permitted amount.

"The devastating impact of IUU fishing results in overexploitation and the eventual collapse of important fisheries, thereby exacerbating poverty and threatening the livelihoods of the most vulnerable citizens in our country,” the Minister said.

 

BELIZE

Hon. Andre Perez - Minister of the Blue Economy & Civil Aviation, Government of Belize, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating impacts on our economies and the increasing threats to our resources by climate change and climate variability make the fight against IUU fishing even more urgent and critical.”

 Hon. Andre Perez-2

Hon. Andre Perez

Photo courtesy: Ministry of Fisheries and Ocean Policy, Government of Norway

 

Minister Perez said that it is crucial to adopt new and modern tools in the monitoring and control of the region’s small-scale fishing fleet. He said that Belize–which up to 2022 had declared 11.3% of its marine space as no-take high biodiversity zones–is  one of the few countries that are piloting the use of mobile transceivers on the fishing fleet as a means of combating IUU fishing.

He added that the Belize Fisheries Department and co-managers of marine protected areas had adopted the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) to enhance enforcement in national waters.

Other initiatives which the Belize Minister highlighted are:

  • Enacting a new Fisheries Resources Act in 2020;

  • Establishing the Blue Bond Conservation Agreement in 2021, which supports enhanced monitoring against IUU fishing;

  • Signing the Copenhagen Declaration in 2021;

 

Minister Perez said that the Copenhagen Declaration of 2018 complements the Castries (St. Lucia) Declaration on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, previously signed by members of the CRFM Ministerial Council back in 2010. He also noted other instruments to which Belize had ascribed, including the 2019-2021 Regional Plan of Action on IUU Fishing (RPOA-IUU) for countries that are members of the Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission (WECAFC), as well as the 2018 Strategy to Prevent, Deter, and Eliminate IUU fishing in the territorial waters of the Central America region, formulated under the auspices of the Organization of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector of the Central American Isthmus (OSPESCA). With respect to Belize’s recently enacted domestic fisheries legislation, Minister Perez said that in addition to including high fines and penalties intended to serve as a deterrent against IUU fishing, it also has provisions similar to the Lacey Act of the USA which sets out penalties for violations of laws in other states.

 

SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES

Our oceans have been a major crime scene… and we must pledge and recommit our efforts to act globally in solidarity, so that we can ensure that we bring an end to IUU fishing in our world,” said Hon. Saboto Caesar - Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry & Labour, Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

 Hon. Saboto Caesar-2

Hon. Saboto Caesar

Photo courtesy: Ministry of Fisheries and Ocean Policy, Government of Norway

  

"I want to send a very clear message to every Member State of the United Nations: for meaningful change to take place, it first begins with a clear expression of the political will to bring about change, and sadly there are still some Member States of the United Nations that have not yet expressed that political will in a way that will benefit the thrust and the effort of others in the fight against IUU fishing,” Minister Caesar stated.

Measures highlighted include:

  • Early adoption of the Port State Measures Agreement and other international agreements;

  • Government spending dedicated to building the capacity of the Coast Guard and to acquire the technical resources needed for monitoring its waters;

  • Banning the harvesting of marine turtles and moving to set both upper and lower size limits for certain species;

  • Advocating against the finning of sharks.

 

Minister Caesar stressed the need for resource mobilization to address IUU fishing and transnational organized crime. He said that bilateral and multilateral platforms and in-country budgets must be mobilized to address the matter.

 


 

CRFM MOVING AHEAD WITH ITS MANDATE

 

Dr. Emma Witbooi - Project Manager, Blue Resilience, The United Nations Development Program, reaffirmed their commitment and partnership. She noted that the UNDP has facilitated country-led Blue Action Dialogues which focus on fostering dialogue and cooperation between institutions and agencies that work to tackle fisheries crime. 

 
Dr. Emma Witbooi

Dr. Emma Witbooi

 Image: CRFM

 “We are delighted to be embarking on the process of working together with various CRFM and CARICOM Member States in initiating these dialogues,” said Dr. Witbooi, reiterating the gratitude of the UNDP for the very fruitful collaboration with the CRFM and CARICOM.

Mr. Joseph Cox, CARICOM Assistant Secretary-General, lauded the efforts of the CRFM to synergize with the Government of Norway and other partners, through the Blue Justice Initiative to address the challenges arising from IUU fishing and transnational organized crime in the industry. He noted that Article 60 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas–an article dedicated entirely to fisheries management–commits the Member States of the Community to collaborate with each other in the ongoing surveillance of their Exclusive Economic Zone.

Mr. Joseph Cox-2

Mr. Joseph Cox

Image: CRFM

  

To this end, the Caribbean Community has invested in institutions such as the CRFM and CARICOM IMPACS [The Caribbean Community Implementation Agency for Crime and Security] to both improve our collective management of our living marine resources and to bolster regional capacity in security matters,” Mr. Cox said.

“It is clear that a high level of commitment is present. CARICOM leaders have paved the [way] for effective cooperation, sustainable capacity building… in improving the safety of the Caribbean Sea, and the protection and safety of our hardworking fishers and our fisheries industries across Member States,” he added.


 

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PHOTO ALBUM

 

 


 

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 © 2022 Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism

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