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Counter-Productive Illegal Fishing Policies?

January 14, 2015

There’s a good article out today at The Guardian on Indonesia’s recently imposed policies to stop illegal fishing in its waters. I’ve been following this with some fascination after the Indonesian Navy rather dramatically blew up two illegal fishing vessels (great photos at the link).

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China’s Role in Global Fisheries Sustainability

January 14, 2015
Estimated potential of fishmeal and oil production from China’s fish-processing industry.

Estimated potential of fishmeal and oil production from China’s fish-processing industry. From here.

Thanks to World Fishing & Aquaculture for highlighting a new article in Science on the impact China has on global fisheries.

Here are a couple good quotes from the article:

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“I am here, and there are the Earth and the Sun”

January 12, 2015
Aruba Sunrise by Rick Seidel

Aruba Sunrise by Rick Seidel

I am catching up on some reading and I see the December 2014-January 2015 issue of the Marine Ecosystems and Management (MEAM) newsletter shares the New Year’s resolutions and wishes of some of the vanguard of the marine conservation movement. I some great professional thinking, but the real gem comes from Wen Bo, a Pew Fellow and the Policy and Media Advisor with the Global Exploration Fund-China at National Geographic.

For his wish/resolution, he beautifully wrote:

If my office or residence happens to be along the coast, I would watch the sunset every now and then, as well as take photos and put them up on the wall and share via social media. If waking up early enough, I would go to see the sunrise by sea at least once a month. Doing this, I would not be too different from astronauts orbiting around the Earth, who can say, ‘I am here, and there are the Earth and the Sun.’ The moments of seeing sunrise and sunset are the moments when we can reflect on our planetary dwelling. It helps remind us of the ocean planet and, as conservationists, how vital and unique our efforts have been. It is one of the greatest jobs on Earth to ensure our healthy planet through time and space.

Additional Considerations on Measuring Illegal Fishing

January 9, 2015
Robert Farrell

Bob Farrell, Assistant Chief, California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Back in November I shared my post on the challenges of fisheries crime estimation to the very excellent LinkedIn group, Combatting IUU Fishing. (If you are interested in illegal fishing, then I highly recommend you join.)

From this post, I received a great response from others that work in the fishing industry and on the policy and management side of things. Two responses in particular stood out to me as deserving some additional spotlighting, and thankfully, both authors agreed to let me share their thoughts publicly.

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Prioritizing Compliance over Enforcement (RBC part II)

January 6, 2015
Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 9.29.41 AM

A hypothetical model of the relationship between enforcement and fishery offenses.

In my first post on risk-based compliance (RBC) programs for fisheries, I presented four big ideas on why such programs should be incorporated into standard fisheries management practice. In this post, I’ll touch on the first of these.

Specifically, it seems that comprehensive compliance programs that incorporate both voluntary compliance and deterrence motivations should be the standard in fisheries management, rather than one-sided enforcement programs. Put into fewer words, I suggest that we should begin to prioritize compliance over enforcement.

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An Introduction to Risk-Based Compliance (RBC) Programs for Fisheries (part I)

January 5, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-01-04 at 5.41.51 PM

Following my recent blog on how the risk-based management paradigm might help improve fisheries compliance, I realized that indeed, in one “down under” corner of the world, this approach is the norm. Both and Australia and New Zealand have adopted risk-based approaches to reduce noncompliance in fisheries management.

So, in order to see just what risk-based compliance (RBC) programs for fisheries management might look like, let’s take a look at the case of Australia’s Commonwealth fisheries, or those fisheries occurring in federal waters outside of the jurisdiction of Oz’s six state governments (see graphic above).

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The Continued Misuse of the term “IUU Fishing”

January 3, 2015

I spent some time today catching up on my ocean news and I caught a couple interesting examples of misuse of the term “IUU fishing”. Once again, I see the common use of the term equates it with “illegal fishing”, which as I’ve discussed before, is completely incorrect. Read more…

Risk Management and Marine Conservation

December 30, 2014


Here’s a brief slideshare of the risk management approach to development.

The World Bank’s 2014 World Development Report – Risk and Opportunity: Managing Risk for Development – represents a valiant effort to introduce the risk management paradigm to its internal processes and the field of international development more generally. For this reason alone, it is well worth a look.

Another reason to read the report is it might well lead to some interesting management options for natural resource managers. While reading the report, I was struck how the risk management paradigm could also help facilitate better ocean conservation, particularly in those cases where negative impacts can be linked back to identifiable actors (e.g., fishers, coastal communities).

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Recommendations to Combat IUU Fishing and Seafood Fraud from the Presidential Task Force

December 29, 2014
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks at the opening session of the 2014 "Our Ocean" conference at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. on June 16, 2014.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks at the opening session of the 2014 “Our Ocean” conference at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. on June 16, 2014.

The Presidential Task Force on IUU fishing and seafood fraud has released its recommendations, and, perhaps more importantly, it’s issued a request for comments on how best to implement the recommendations. For those interested in the full recommendations, or in making a comment by the January 20 deadline, the federal register document can be found here (or here if you want a PDF).

If you want the quick rundown, I summarize the substantive aspects below. All in all, the recommendations are comprehensive, and – if properly implemented – would greatly reduce the United States’ consumption of illegally produced and/or market seafood.

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Is there a Global Illegal Fishing Crisis? A Quick Look at the Problems with Fisheries Crime Estimation

November 4, 2014
"Figure 2. Relationship between the amount of illegal fishing (expressed as a proportion of the reported catch that is additionally taken as illegal and unreported catch) and an average of four World Bank indices of governance" from Agnew et al. (2009). This figure and other data from the article have given us a popular, but misleading understanding of illegal fishing.

“Figure 2. Relationship between the amount of illegal fishing (expressed as a proportion of the reported catch that is additionally taken as illegal and unreported catch) and an average of four World Bank indices of governance” from Agnew et al. (2009). This figure and other data from the article have given us a popular, but misinformed understanding of illegal fishing.

Author’s Note: I understand a few parts of this web essay may be provocative. I argue there is a major methodological failure in the field of fisheries management, and one example of this implies that the Obama administration may have been misinformed as to what we know scientifically about fisheries crime. My hope, however, is not to provoke, but perhaps encourage a little more discussion about the central issue.

A leading issue in the marine conservation arena is the global and large-scale nature of illegal fishing. Various NGOs have made Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing a key target of their campaigns, and indeed, you find that IUU is generally used as a proxy term for “illegal fishing”.  Just off the top of my head, I can tell you that Pew, WWF, and Greenpeace all have global campaigns/programs dedicated to fighting “IUU” fishing but primarily focus on only the first “I”.

Further, governments have made the illegal fishing issue a priority. The EU is now actively blocking seafood imports from countries on suspicion that they were illegally produced, and this recently put Belize and Sri Lanka in the supra-state’s sights, among others. And in the U.S., President Obama recently issued a national task force to devise recommendations to combat seafood fraud and IUU fishing (though, staying par for course, the memorandum only discusses the term’s illegal component).

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