Illegal fishing drains K505mil


ILLEGAL, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the Pacific has cost the region US$152 million (K505.1 million) annually, according to a recent study.
The study by the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) found that it was mainly in license breaches rather than illegal tuna pirates plundering the region’s exclusive economic zones (EEZs).
Illegal fishing is when vessels or harvesters operate in violation of the laws of a fishery; unreported fishing is fishing that has been unreported or misreported to the relevant national authority in contravention of applicable laws and regulations; unregulated fishing generally refers to fishing by vessels without nationality, vessels flying the flag of a country not party to the regional fisheries management organisations (RFMO) governing that fishing area or species on the high seas.
The study showed that the results seemed confronting but needed to be placed in context, and the dollar figure was not the most important part of the study rather it was the sequential process of identifying where the key illegal fishing risks lay, and how important each one was compared to others.
“This allows us to then review our monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) framework to make sure that we continue to address high risk areas,” the study said.
“The systematic methodology developed in this study will also allow us to improve our measurement of IUU activity over time so that we can better track progress as we combat IUU fishing.”
The study found the issues of misreporting and underreporting were the largest contributors to illegal fishing.
“This is important because it means we should step up our existing plans to roll out more reliable and real time catch and effort reporting by vessel captains and observers,” the study revealed.
It also found that unlicensed vessels simply poaching fish was a relatively smaller risk than previously considered, in the order of four per cent.
“Any illegal fishing in our exclusive economic zone is an affront to our sovereignty but we can take some comfort that is a big change from years gone by, where patrol vessels and aerial surveillance would routinely detect vessels fishing in areas that they were not licensed to be in,” it said.
“Our challenge is to take this report and use it in a comprehensive review of the state of monitoring, control and surveillance in the region and to adjust and improve our national and regional MCS systems.”