Caribbean officials agree on marking vessels to fight IUU fishing
As the Caribbean continues its fight against illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, fisheries officials agreed at a meeting last month to harmonize standards for marking authorized fishing vessels, as well as to establish a list of vessels involved in IUU fishing.
According to a news release on the website of the Food and Agriculture Organization, a working group comprising members of the Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission, the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism, and the Organization for Fisheries and Aquaculture of Central America reached the agreement at a second meeting, held 19 to 21 September, to devise strategies for deterring, preventing, and eliminating IUU fishing.
IUU fishing is estimated to account for 20 to 30 percent of fish harvests in the Western Central Atlantic fisheries, which includes the Caribbean Sea, and is valued at between USD 450 to 750 million (EUR 384 to 640 million) annually.
The FAO news release stated that IUU fishing is not just a matter of illegal activity, but a practice that damages biodiversity and fishing stocks. It noted that fish production has fallen by nearly 50 percent in the region compared to the 1980s.
“The measures discussed and agreed by the experts at this meeting allow the fisheries inspectors, coast guard, navy and port officials to easily identify fishing vessels and see if the vessels have the necessary authorizations to fish. The measures will facilitate the work of the inspectors and other officials, who will have access to a regional record of authorized fishing vessels and lists of presumed and confirmed IUU fishing vessels. This will enable them to deny port access and support prosecution actions against IUU vessels,” the release stated.
The fisheries experts were also updated at the meeting on the International Plan of Action to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing; the Global Record of Fishing Vessels, Refrigerated Transport Vessels and Supply Vessels; and specific measures needed in the Caribbean region to effectively end IUU fishing.
The agreement on marking vessels and establishing a list of IUU vessels will be reviewed and likely endorsed by 2018 for full implementation in 2019 throughout the region, the news release said.
In recent years, Trinidad and Tobago and Belize and St. Kitts-Nevis both have received European Union yellow card reprimands for IUU fishing, while St. Vincent and the Grenadines received a red card earlier this year.