Category: Youth


IUU 2To what extent could the control of Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing curb food insecurity, promote global environmental governance and economic development?
On 25 September 2015, the 193-member United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) formally adopted the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. This agenda encapsulated a set of 17 new global goals that are universal, integrated and transformative vision for a better world. The goals include: ending poverty in all its forms everywhere; ending hunger to achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture; promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all; conserve and sustainably use the oceans, Seas and marine resources for sustainable development
To achieve these goals, the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing averred that public finance and aid would be central to support their implementation; and also money generated from the private sector, through tax reforms, and through a crackdown on illicit financial flows and corruption. A major conference on financing of the SDGs, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in July 2015, failed to ease concerns over the lack of sufficient funds to meet the aspirational nature of the goals (the summit failed to produce new ways of acquiring finances to fund the goals or offer ways to transform the international finance system).
Could the control of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing help in achieving these goals? In many parts of the world, marine fisheries have been the desired source of protein and play a crucial role in maintaining food and economic security. With the speeding up of globalization process, the rapid population growth, increase in demand for fish, development of urban markets and introduction of new technologies, there is an expansion of fishing operations. The rapid growth and globalization of the fisheries sector has also transformed fishing patterns. Current trends in the production of global marine fisheries resources have presented an alarming concern for food security and sustainable development. For instance, some of the fishery resources that were previously regarded as inexhaustible have either been depleted or over exploited. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations states that, of the major marine fish stocks or species groups, 52% are fully exploited, 17% are over exploited, 25% are underexploited or moderately exploited, and the remaining 6% are becoming depleted.
The decline in global fisheries resources has been attributed to a number of interrelated factors; illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Fish piracy continues to thrive worldwide despite national and international efforts. Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, which involves all types of fishing vessels, regardless of their registration, size or state of repair affects both territorial and international waters. Illegal fishing is conducted by national or foreign vessels in waters under the jurisdiction of a state, without the permission of the owning State, or in contravention of its laws and regulations. Unreported fishing is when fishing activities have not been reported or have been misreported to the relevant national authority, in contravention with national laws and regulations. Unregulated fishing refers to fishing activities conducted by vessels without nationality, or by those flying the flag of a state not party to that organization. IUU fishing has depleted global fish stokes and undermined efforts towards achieving the principle of intergenerational and intra-generational equity. As IUU fishing is done illegally, the social and economic welfare of those involved in fishing legally is affected negatively.
IUU fishing causes economic, social and environmental problems. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, IUU fishing accounts for up to 30% of the total catches in some important fisheries and that catches of particular species could be up to three times the permitted amount. The data suggests that high seas IUU fishing is concentrated on a few high value species, such as Patagonian toothfish and tuna. Unregulated catch has threatened the sustainability of world fish stocks and undermined efforts to manage resources. In terms of social and economic impacts, IUU fishers operate at lower costs thereby gaining an unjust economic advantage over legitimate fishers who also depend on fish to sustain their livelihoods. According to OECD, high seas IUU operators usually exploit fishers from developing countries as many of the crew on IUU vessels come from poor parts of the world. Given that they have few other employment options, they work on IUU vessels for low wages and in extremely poor working and living conditions.
If controlled, legal fishing presents various opportunities: countries that depend on fisheries will be food secure. Availability of adequate and nutritious food presents various advantages-it translates to good health; access to food by household translates to children being well nourished. This increases basic learning capacities of children. Food increases the capacity to concentrate and perform well in school; a food secure household is likely to have higher incomes. This is because food security translates to high performance at places of work and trade in surplus agricultural products and thus higher incomes. Higher incomes provide resources that ensure sustained growth in human development. Households with higher income spend on various sectors such as education and improvement in health which are among the components of human development.
Why does IUU fishing continue to thrive even though it is illegal and presents various disadvantages? Factors that create incentives for IUU fishing include: Insufficient or inefficient enforcement of national and international regulations including low monitoring, control and surveillance capacities and low level of sanction which reduces the cost of risk faced by IUU operators; ineffective flag state control over vessels which allow operators engaged in IUU fishing activities to face reduced operating and risk costs; prevalence of poor economic and social conditions in some countries which reduces the cost of fraud, crew costs, the cost of risk and the costs associated with maintaining appropriate safety and working standards; and incomplete international legal frameworks.
Various international and regional agreements have been adopted to curb IUU. Globally, the International Plan of Action on IUU fishing is mandated for this. Regionally, considering the serious economic, social and environmental problems caused by IUU fishing activities, the OECD’s committee for fisheries, in the Programme of work for 2002-2005 launched a study; “which will provide policy makers with environmental, economic and social arguments in support of measures in relation to IUU fishing activities, Including the FAO International Plan of Action on IUU fishing… ” (FAO fisheries report No.666, 2000). The drawback of these is that there is Insufficient and inefficient enforcement of at both national and international levels.
To resolve this problem, world leaders could do the following; while laws regarding illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing exist, there is Insufficient and inefficient enforcement of at both national and international. This is because these laws and especially the International Plan of Action on IUU fishing are non-binding. In this regard, to improve the effectiveness of these laws, an online network database on fishing should be created. This will be a forum of information exchange allowing for communications and questions between countries and experts on key issues of relevance. This means that the platform will be one stop for national laws, International laws, best practices and information sharing.  With information sharing on the issues of fishing, IUU fishing may significantly reduce.

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