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Getting to the ‘I’ in IUU

February 23, 2011

There’s a great new article up on CFP Reform Watch.  Gunnar Stølsvik, head of the Norwegian national advisory group against organized IUU-fishing, explains how the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) may facilitate criminal investigations of illegal fishing.

If you remember, IUU fishing is fishing that is Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported.

I liked the article’s quoting of the High Seas Task Force to further describe IUU fishing.  Here’s that quote:

IUU fishing is a high reward, low risk activity. For every illegal fisher that is apprehended, another one will appear. In the Southern Ocean, for example, organised syndicates play cat and mouse with authorities. The movements of patrol boats are monitored by spies and reported to the illegal fleet. Communication between vessels of the same fleet is kept to a minimum to avoid detection. If an interdiction is inevitable, older, less valuable, vessels are sacrificed to protect more valuable ones. Ownership structures involving multiple front companies are used to keep details from boat crews as well as authorities. Operational instructions for the illegal fleet are passed down through front companies with vessel masters often not knowing who their real employers are.

Because of the complexity of most operations, Stølsvik reasons that UNTOC should be applicable.   He notes we already have many tools (documentation schemes, IUU-lists, port state measures) but we don’t yet do intelligence-driven investigations.  EUROPOL and INTERPOL could also provide this sort of tool.

Here’s more from the article on UNTOC:

The convention was adopted by the General Assembly in 2000 and to date 159 states are parties to this convention and could be described as one of the most successful international conventions in terms of number of parties. Some of the obligations of the states are to afford one another the widest measure of mutual legal assistance in investigations, prosecutions and judicial proceedings in transnational organized criminal cases.

In the fight against transnational organized illegal fishing it is important to cooperate across national boundaries. The UNTOC convention is a legal framework for cooperation in such cases. In addition, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has a physical presence in more than 60 countries. UNODC assists requesting Member States in enhancing their capacity to address environmental crime and are involved in issues like anti corruption work, information sharing, criminal investigation techniques and prosecution assistance.

Finally, Stølsvik points out that IUU fishing may involve forced labor.  I liked his material, but this report by the Environmental Justice Foundation was far more powerful to me.

Here’s a good video on IUU fishing by EJF:

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 24, 2011 5:12 am

    Thanks for linking to the EJF report. Powerful indeed!

    • February 24, 2011 7:46 am

      Of course, Axel. You guys have a great site. Keep up the great work!

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