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Illegal Fishing Impact on Industry Investigated at WFC

10 May 2012

GLOBAL - As part of the World Fisheries Congress – taking place at the EICC, 7-11 May – two panel sessions are set to examine the critically important topic of illegal and unsustainable pirate fishing, which threatens global fisheries and the countries and communities that depend on them.

The relentless search for a better catch has led to rampant illegal fishing across our oceans - plundering many of our valuable marine resources.

One in four fisheries around the world has collapsed in the past 50 years because of unsustainable fishing practices – resulting in depleted fish stocks globally. Financial losses are estimated to run to in the region of US$ 10 billion and US$ 23.5 billion per year – representing between 11 and 26 million tonnes of fish.

Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) is the term given to any fishing activity that contravenes national or international laws. Broadcaster, Al Jazeera has released a two-part documentary which addresses this deadly serious issue.

Filmed in Sierra Leone in West Africa, which has a highest incidence of IUU in the world, a special screening of ‘Pirate Fish’ is being aired at the conference.

The two-part investigation follows the UK-based Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) as it sets out to identify and expose some of those involved in the trade and looks into the consequences for this impoverished West African nation.

It highlights the industrial scale of pirate fishing operations and the impact this has on some of the world’s poorest people – to feed hungry markets in Europe and Asia.

The film also brings to light the extraordinary crackdown by the Government of Sierra Leone on illegal fishing in the country’s inshore exclusion zone. The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR) has turned its attention to tracing and fining several vessels that fled before they could be held accountable for their crimes.

Steve Trent of NGO, EJF said: “We are witnessing a potentially transformative moment in fisheries enforcement in West Africa. If this pressure is maintained, we are confident that the profit can be taken out of illegal fishing once and for all.”

Felicity Huntingford, World Council of Fisheries Societies President added: “IUU is a colossal problem within the marine world and we must all pull together to ensure we can effectively tackle and resolve this issue. Not only does illegal fishing represent millions lost yearly in revenue, but it thwarts the vulnerable West African fishermen who depend primarily on fishing as a cheap source of protein in their diet, and their only source of livelihood.

“This film shows not only the harrowing effects of this illegal practice on a country and its community but also highlights the positive progress that can be made. I’m encouraged by the agenda for change that has been set by Sierra Leone and hope others will lead by example so we can put an end to this destructive practice.”

An event will take place on Thursday 10 May at the WFC, bringing together experts discuss the impacts of IUU fishing and a range of solutions.

TheFishSite News Desk



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