Lyon, 27 February 2013 – As Interpol convenes its first meeting to address the illegal fishing crisis, Greenpeace renewed its demand to end illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, calling for stricter enforcement and the elimination of loopholes in regulations.
As back up to its call, Greenpeace released the detailed documentation of illegal fishing activities encountered during two ship expeditions in the Pacific and Indian Oceans in 2012 highlighting the need for urgent action.
Greenpeace is demanding that governments prohibit the transfer of fish at sea, end fishing vessels’ ability to hide in ports or under flags of convenience, require identification devices such as AIS and improve at-sea control and enforcement.
“Illegal fishing continues to expand and much of what happens at sea stays at sea and escapes all control,” said Sari Tolvanen, Greenpeace International oceans campaigner.
“It is estimated that between $10 and $24 billion worth of fish is illegally taken from our oceans every year – often from developing nations and supported by sophisticated transnational networks of criminals. Tuna fisheries and the global trade in shark fins are prime examples of this organised crime.”
As overfishing decimates fish stocks, fleets are moving further and further from homeports to catch valuable fish species such as tuna.
During the ship expeditions in late 2012, Greenpeace International encountered fishing vessels from Japan, Taiwan and Sri Lanka engaged in illegal or suspicious fishing activities in the Indian Ocean. In the Pacific, Greenpeace International witnessed Asian vessels fishing illegally in international waters, taking advantage of poor at-sea enforcement and loopholes in the law.
The results of each expedition will be made available to law enforcement officials at the Interpol meeting and will also be delivered to the relevant fisheries management authorities.
“Illegal fishing cannot be stopped through stricter law enforcement alone: fishing quotas must be set at sustainable levels. Given the lucrative global tuna market and the decline in tuna populations, illegal fishing is increasingly profitable,” added Tolvanen.
Greenpeace is advocating that more financial and human resources be allocated to control activities at sea and along the chain of custody, and that loopholes such as transfer of fish at sea be banned accompanied by steep cuts in industrial fishing capacity that lead to illegal and overfishing. Interpol can take a lead by enabling the sharing of data and best practices, and push for strict enforcement and proper prosecution of individuals and companies in involved in illegal fishing.
Greenpeace is campaigning for a more sustainable fishing industry and a global network of fully protected sanctuaries at sea, both necessary steps to creating healthy, living oceans for future generations.
The ship tour findings reports can be found at: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/publications/Campaign-reports/Oceans-Reports/Ocean-Expeditions-2012/