Greenpeace launches first public pirate fishing vessel ‘list of shame’ and demands governments translate voluntary measures into hard laws
Rome, Italy — Greenpeace today launched a first global database of blacklisted, illegal fishing vessels, in a bid to tackle the huge problem of illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing, a $9 billion rogue industry which is having a devastating effect on fish stocks and biodiversity in some of the most ecologically important areas of the world’s oceans.
The Greenpeace database (http://oceans.greenpeace.org/blacklist), which was launched at the meeting of the committee on Fisheries of the Food and Agriculture Organisations (FAO) in Rome, aims to publicly identify vessels which are involved in so-called ‘pirate fishing’, to expose the lack of action by the authorities to prevent the illegal trade.
Today, Greenpeace also released a report (2) showing that the attempts at voluntary measures to curb pirate fishing by governments have had little effect on the levels of illegal fishing in some of the poorest and most desperate areas of action in the world, particularly the west coast of Africa.
“The fact that Greenpeace has to publish a global database of blacklisted illegal fishing vessels demonstrates clearly just how little concrete action states have taken to stop this pillage of our oceans,” Sari Tolvanen of Greenpeace International. “What’s needed now is an official body to take charge of the policing of the worlds’ oceans and make publicly available the information of both illegitimate and unlicensed fishing vessels. Until this happens, we have little hope of stopping the devastation which pirate fishing brings.”
The Greenpeace report shows that six years after the member countries of the FAO approved an International Plan of Action to curb illegal fishing, the problem is very far from being solved. It includes evidence gathered last year when the Greenpeace ship Esperanza, spent two months documenting the activities of foreign fleets off the coast of Guinea Conakry (3). That investigation discovered that almost half of the 92 fishing vessels encountered in Guinea’s waters were fishing illegally, or linked to illegal fishing activities. It has been estimated that sub-Saharan Africa loses around $1 billion a year due to the activities of such illegal trawling fleets.
“The measures needed to stamp out pirate fishing are well known. Action is required at all levels of the chain of custody, from the net in the water to the fish on the shelves of supermarkets”, said Sebastian Losada, Greenpeace Oceans campaigner. “International cooperation, binding laws on port control, as well as a global register of fishing vessels and adequate sanctions are among the tools that Governments need to put in place to act against the pirate fleets that are literally stealing the food of some of the poorest people in the world and destroying our marine ecosystems”.
Greenpeace campaigners attending the United Nations fisheries meeting in Rome demanded that governments must translate the existing voluntary frameworks and international initiatives into hard law. The international environmental organisation also demanded that the special requirements of developing countries in fighting illegal fishing be taken into account.
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