18 insurers sign pledge to use new IUU-tracking tool

A screenshot from Vessel Viewer.

Eighteen insurers have pledge to use a new tool capable of tracking vessels involved in illegal fishing.

Launched at a marine underwriters conference recently in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A., Vessel Viewer is a product of the Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance, established during the United Nations’ 2019 climate action summit with backing from the financial services sector.

Developed by Global Fishing Watch and Trygg Mat Tracking, Vessel Viewer can track the movement of fishing boats in real-time, and lists their ownership, flagging history, and past or current presence on blacklists for illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The technology allows insurers to fully assess the risk associated with a particular vessel, according to Francois Mosnier, head of the oceans program at nonprofit financial think tank Planet Tracker.

One of the insurers participating in the Vessel Viewer launch, Norway-based marine insurance firm Hydor, ended its coverage of a fleet of ships found to be participating in illegal tuna fishing, following a report was published by the Environmental Justice Foundation.

“[The pledge] sends a very strong signal that insurers take IUU fishing seriously and allows them to detect IUU almost in real-time,” Mosnier said. “It is a fantastic initiative, with a high potential to reduce IUU fishing if enough insurers embrace it.”

However, there are two main limitations to its use, Mosnier told SeafoodSource.

“It relies on AIS [automatic identification system] signals, which can be switched off or corrupted, and it detects IUU fishing once it happens, but does not provide a risk of IUU fishing happening,” he said. “The latter is very challenging, of course.”

Planet Tracker has already launched its own tool, the Planet Tracker IUU Fishing Detection Tookit, to help insurers, investors, and lenders to compute the IUU fishing risk score of any company.

Photo courtesy of Trygg Mat Tracking


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