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Unregulated Fishing on the High Seas of the Indian Ocean: The impacts on, risks to, and challenges for sustainable fishing and ocean health

This report presents the first study to use automatic identification system (AIS) data to examine the risks of unregulated fishing to ocean health. It also addresses the challenges faced by decision makers and regional management bodies to tackle unregulated fishing on the high seas of the Indian Ocean within the context of a failure to date to sustainably manage this global commons. The study discusses two institutional features that contribute to unregulated fishing on the high seas of the Indian Ocean: the gaps in spatial areas of competence and the gaps between the groups of species covered by regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs).

Transshipment in the Western and Central Pacific - Greater Understanding and Transparency of Carrier Vessel Fleet Dynamics would Help Reform Management

This report analyzed the movements of carrier vessels operating in the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) Convention area in 2016. Through analysis of AIS data, the report identified carrier vessel voyage patterns and quantity, carrier vessels' flag state patterns, the spatial distribution of potential transshipment on the high seas, and the port visit locations by carrier and flag states. The report also found that many carrier vessels did not transponder on AIS, leading to significant gaps in data on unreported transshipment events. Ultimately, the WCPFC’s management of transshipment in its Convention area is compromised by a lack of reported information on transshipment, coupled with non-compliance with reporting requirements and non-standardized reporting responses by CCMs on carrier vessels and their activities.

Tuna and Transshipment - A global Analysis to Explore the Links between Tuna Diversity and Transshipment Vessel Location

With six of the seven main tuna species already fully fished or overfished, this study aims to find a correlation between tuna distribution and spawning grounds with reefer activity. Tuna is a highly sought-after fish species and reefers provide increased fishing activity while their use in transshipment can also aid in IUU fishing that mainly targets tuna sub-species. On a global scale, the study was unable to find any correlation between reefer activity and tuna distribution or habitat.

The Global View of Transshipment - Revised Preliminary Findings

In this research study, Global Fishing Watch uses AIS information to identify where transshipment can be happening and who is doing it. About 42 percent of potential rendezvous (what is identified through AIS data to track transshipments) occur on the high seas, with the rest happening within the EEZs of different nations–especially Russia. It is concerning, however, that those areas with higher levels of reported IUU fishing correlate with areas of high potential rendezvous. With such a high level of transshipments occurring on high seas, the global community could not only benefit from using AIS data to identify illegal transshipments but must also cooperate to address lax oversight and control. This revised report improves on the methodology of the earlier finding in February 2017.

Report of the FAO Expert Workshop on Transshipment and IUU Fishing

The Committee on Fisheries (COFI) undertook a global report on transshipment activities including the state of transshipment regulations and practices, guidance on specific control mechanisms for transshipment, and the state of independent monitoring and control over transshipment. The COFI held a workshop to overlook their report and the Global Stakeholder Survey responses they received from 91 States. The workshop concluded, among various other findings, that transshipment threatens the marine environment and human rights abuses without effective monitoring and control. However, the practice is an important cost-effective fishing operation and does not in itself pose a threat to what was previously discussed–further research must be done to see the extent of illicit transshipment operations.

Identifying Global Patterns of Transshipment Behavior

Transshipment at high seas is very difficult to monitor, allowing the possibility of illegally caught fish to enter the legitimate seafood market, or enabling human rights abuses. This paper uses AIS data to track global transshipment behavior. They find that a majority of transshipment occurs at high seas outside of EEZ boundaries–areas that may lack national jurisdiction or where regulations are difficult to enforce. Additionally, possible transshipment encounters are happening with vessels flying flags of convenience. Together, these findings paint a scene of large transparency issues in global transshipment behaviors that will need to be addressed by governing bodies.

Global View of Transshipment - Preliminary Findings - GFW

In this research study, Global Fishing Watch uses AIS information to identify where transshipment can be happening and who is doing it. About 42 percent of potential rendezvous (what is identified through AIS data to track transshipments) occur on the high seas, with the rest happening within the EEZs of different nations–especially Russia. It is concerning, however, that those areas with higher levels of reported IUU fishing correlate with areas of high potential rendezvous. With such a high level of transshipments occurring on high seas, the global community could not only benefit from using AIS data to identify illegal transshipments but must also cooperate to address lax oversight and control.

Flags of Convenience Transshipment, Re-supply and At-Sea Infrastructure in Relation to IUU Fishing

This study begins by identifying the trends in usage of flags of convenience (FOC). Using the Lloyd's Register database, they compile a list of fourteen countries that consistently top lists of FOC countries or are of particular concern to IUU fishing. Despite the adoption of enforcement pieces like the UN FAO IPOA, registration to these fourteen countries has only slightly declined and new vessel constructions are largely registering with FOC countries. Next, the database helps determine the role and character of the at-sea transshipment, refueling, and resupply fleets in supporting the operations of high-value tuna longline fleets and other fishing fleets on the high seas. Many of these vessels engage in a combination of participating in IUU transshipment as well as legal vessels fishing for tuna.

Fishy Business - How Transshipment at Sea Facilitates IUU Fishing that Devastates our Oceans

Greenpeace undertook a research project to understand the extent of misuse of AIS by the global reefer industry. Greenpeace identified and studied 416 reefers that make up the majority of vessels that have transshipped at sea in the period 2017-2019. From these vessels, Greenpeace found multiple instances of violations of AIS, with proof in adopting 'flags of convenience' (most commonly, Panama), the behavior of vessel interactions with 'encounter' and 'loitering,' and transshipment in areas that are unregulated or pose a threat to marine habitats. The continued violations of AIS by reefers, according to Greenpeace, calls for a robust Global Ocean Treaty that will stop these harmful activities and protect our oceans.

Domino Effects of Cumulative Bias and Erroneous Data in Fisheries Big-Data Mapping Models - Case Study of GFW View on Transshipments - FishSpektrum

Without a Worldwide Unique Vessel Identifier (WUVI) database, the International community has largely relied on data in self-created combined vessel lists for spatiotemporal mappings of fishing presence, effort, and footprint. Projects match fishing vessel registration identifiers to their alleged AIS MMSI numbers using these vessel lists. This study aims to prove that this method has yielded a large number of erroneous ship identification references. Global Fishing Watch, one of the largest vessel identification projects, is crosschecked with the vessel data that the study gathered and found that it suffers from major flaws and biases. Such errors put at risk both the creditability of the GFW and private/independent fisheries monitoring control & surveillance (MCS) initiatives. Not only should projects use more scientific responsibility, but a worldwide database could also help end the data-gathering methods that brought these mistakes about.

Characterizing Transshipment at-sea Activities by Longline and Purse Seine Fisheries in Response to Recent Policy Changes in Indonesia

To combat IUU fishing facilitated by at-sea transshipment, the Indonesian government banned the activity in 2014. Enforcing the ban, however, has been difficult due to the challenges of detecting and monitoring transshipment activities at sea. This study provides a suite of indicators for longline and purse seine fisheries in Indonesian waters as a useful tool to underpin monitoring, control, and surveillance activities to reduce IUU fishing. Through this analysis, the extent of increased enforcement and legislation managing transshipment puts Indonesia at the forefront of nations addressing IUU fishing.

A Review of Management and Reporting Trends Related to Transshipment Occurring within the IOTC Convention Area

The number of reported high-seas transshipment events in the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) Convention Area has increased by over 94% between 2014 and 2018. This growth in transshipment activity has not been met with equal management and monitoring regulations. The Commission implemented Resolution 18-06 requiring that all transshipments occur in port but allows large-scale tuna fishing vessels (LSTVs) to transship at sea if they are authorized by their flag CPC and comply with other specific requirements. However, this paper analyzes transshipment operations reported to have occurred within the IOTC Convention Area and finds that the resolution has flaws and that high-seas transshipment is increasing with insufficient monitoring and compliance. All of these problems are given a recommendation on how to address them.

A Review of Management and Reporting Trends Related to Transshipment Occurring in the WCPFC

The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) has seen a staggering growth in transshipment activity within its Convention Area. Using publicly available information on transshipment
operations within the WCPFC, the WCPFC provides an analysis of transshipment and recognizes the need for additional management rules on transshipment within its Convention Area. Their analysis shows flaws in managing transshipment events and sharing and reporting data between other RFMOs and within their own carrier observers. Implementation of the best practices developed by the Pew Charitable Trusts could be a solution to this issue.

Ports Task Force Ghana

The Ports Task Force Ghana (PTFG) is working diligently to implement the National Strategy and Action Plan for the implementation of the 2009 FAO Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and complimentary international instruments and mechanisms. They have identified the threats of allowing IUU fishing to move through their ports for what it does to local fisheries, the economy, and the country's people. Through a detailed course of action and various partnerships, PTFG will work to bring an end to vessels suspected of participating in IUU from entering Ghana's ports.

Global Scope and Economics of Illegal Fishing - Marine Policy

This paper presents a conceptual model for the analysis of the costs and benefit aspects of the risk inherent in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) activity. The researchers use data to analyze the cost and benefit aspects of risks of IUU fishing. A key result of the study is that for the cases analyzed as a group; the expected benefits from IUU fishing far exceed the expected cost of being apprehended. For an assumed 1 in 5 chance of being apprehended, the researchers calculate that reported fines for the vessels apprehended will have to be increased by 24 times for the expected cost to be at least as much as the expected benefits.

The IUU Fishing Index

The IUU fishing index was created to provide a benchmark for 152 coastal countries on their exposure and response to IUU fishing. With this benchmark, various parties (governments, RFMOs, donors) can recognize where intervention is needed. With the scores of each country divided by responsibility (coastal, flag, port, general) and type of action to combat IUU fishing (vulnerability, prevalence, response), the paper calculated a score for every coastal country. With this index as a benchmark, bodies around the world can begin to recognize where help is needed to combat IUU fishing and provide personalized responses, with well-performing countries serving as a point of comparison.

Extent and Implications of IUU Catch in Mexico Marine Fisheries - Marine Policy

Mexico has access to an extensive coastline that has served the country by becoming a primary source of food and job creation. The increase in fisheries has also come at the cost of increasing corruption and a limited capacity for monitoring and enforcement resulting in significant IUU catch. Unreported and illegal fishing accounts for a high percentage of reported catch; this study aims to estimate unreported fisheries catches in Mexico from 1950 to 2010 through catch reconstructions. Results show that from 1950 to 2010, total fisheries catch was almost twice as high as the official statistics reported to the FAO. Knowing these figures, Mexico can move towards better managing their fish stock–specifically when it comes to bycatch and discards.

When Fishing Turns Deadly - The Environmental and Social Impacts of Illegal Trawling in North Sumatra - EJF

Trawling is recognized as ecologically destructive and unsustainable and contributes to widespread IUU fishing in Indonesia. The number of trawlers is highest in North Sumatra, even though trawlers were banned in Indonesian waters in 1980. Indonesian authorities, because of bribery and corruption, have been unwilling to enforce the ban, leading to a rise in trawler activity. Trawlers often illegally enter a 3-mile zone reserved for traditional fishing activities. This invasion has led to ecological harm to the area, a decrease in stock leading to increasingly less income and a collapse of local fisheries, and most alarmingly, high levels of violence and conflict, sometimes leading to death. JALA is working with local fisheries to represent their needs to the Indonesian government and provide a solution for this urgent situation.

Squid Capture in the Northwest Indian Ocean - Unregulated Fishing on the High Seas

This report discusses the rapid expansion of squid fishing in the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) Convention Area. The vessels appear to operate exclusively in the high seas, avoiding exclusive economic zones (EEZs) and therefore falling within an area beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ).
The area of operation, although physically within the area covered by the regional fisheries management organisation (RFMO), the IOTC, does not fall within its area of competence as only tuna and tuna like species are included within the IOTC mandate. The squid fishery presented in this report, based on analysis of data from January 2015 to April 2017 is therefore unregulated.
Squid are important prey for 12 predatory species including significant species such as bigeye tuna and swordfish. A clear understanding of sustainable yields is needed and management frameworks are required to sustainably manage this fishery.

Greenpeace - Turn the Tide - Human Rights Abuses and Illegal Fishing in Thailand's Overseas Fishing Industry

In an extensive one-year research on Thailand's overseas fishing fleets, Greenpeace finds that many of Thailand's distant water fishing fleets participate in illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing. Despite the Thai government passing regulation in 2015 to control distant fishing fleets, Greenpeace uncovers multiple enduring human rights violations. Many of Thailand's companies, aided by large refrigerated vessels known as "reefers", are once again sailing at sea, continuing practices that lead to trafficking, fatalities, disease, and countless other human rights violations.