Global Fishing Watch welcomes international collaboration in fight against IUU fishing

Shark fins seized by a joint task force operating in the North Pacific Ocean in 2021

Global Fishing Watch is welcoming a stepped-up global response to the scourge of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Two separate anti-IUU initiatives have been launched in the past two months: the Joint Analytical Cell and the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness.

Founded by the USAID-funded International Monitoring, Control, and Surveillance Network as well as data focused monitoring groups Global Fishing Watch and TMT, the JAC aims to harness innovative technology and fisheries expertise to increase data sharing and collaboration among governments and non-state actors in the fight against IUU.

A May meeting in Tokyo of the Quad [Australia, India, Japan, and the U.S.] saw the launch of the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness, an intelligence-led initiative to assist poorer states to combat IUU, with particular emphasis on keeping vessels from the Chinese distant-water fleet – the world’s biggest – from operating illegally.

“We welcome growing political will and collaboration among states to address IUU fishing. We also believe that innovation and new technologies to track vessels at sea are vital, along with ensuring information is shared and actionable,” GFW Director of Communications Kimberly Vosburgh told SeafoodSource.

GFW is currently working with the U.S. Coast Guard, which draws upon GFW data and analysis to target its enforcement patrols. In 2021, the USCG used GFW data in its undertaking of a two-month patrol in support of Operation North Pacific Guard.

“The collaboration built on the inaugural support we provided in 2019, which saw a threefold increase in vessel boardings and an eightfold increase in identified violations compared to 2018,” Vosburgh said.

Canada, South Korea, and Japan also participated in the operation, which patrolled the high seas of the North Pacific Ocean and uncovered 450 illegally taken shark fins and 42 potential violations of regional fisheries management organization measures.

“Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing undermines the international regulation and stewardship of keystone ocean species. It cheats millions of people living in coastal communities out of hard-earned income and causes serious harm to our marine ecosystems,” Canadian Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Joyce Murray said in a press release. “Canada will continue to work with our federal, international, and non-governmental partners to combat these harmful practices. Together, we’ll protect our waters and the livelihoods of hard-working, law-abiding harvesters, at home and around the world.”

Photo courtesy of Global Fishing Watch


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