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Environment Human Rights

Fishing in a Sea of Malice

Headless policies, toothless laws, photo: dailyjoe/flickr

In the very year the International Maritime Organization (IMO) designated “Year of the Seafarer”, a new report, published by the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), has now exposed how illegal, ‘pirate’ fishing operators are ruthlessly exploiting not only the riches of the sea, but also the crews aboard the fishing vessels.

Pirate fishing – less prosaically known as illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing – is one of the most serious threats to the future of world fishery. Occurring in virtually all fishing grounds from shallow coastal waters to deep oceans, and driven by an enormous global demand for fish and seafood, pirate fishing is leaving coastal communities in developing countries without much needed food and income and the marine environment debilitated and empty.

IUU fishing is an organized criminal activity, professionally coordinated and truly global, respecting neither national boundaries nor international attempts to manage the seas’ resources. It thrives where governance is weak and where countries fail to meet their international responsibilities. According to the EJF and Greenpeace, it is thus not surprising that most illegal fishing is carried out by ships flying so-called ‘flags of convenience’.