ASEAN Network for Combatting IUU Fishing established

By Stop Illegal Fishing:17th Jan, 2020: Event Coverage · FISH-i Africa · West Africa Task Force

Representatives from the FISH-i Africa and West Africa Task Forces participated in the 2nd ASEAN meeting on combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, held in partnership with the EU, on 13 – 14 December 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand.

 

The meeting was held under the auspices of the EU-ASEAN Cooperation in the thematic area of Environment and Climate Change and the Enhanced Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument (E-READI), an EU-funded development cooperation programme. The meeting was attended by representatives from the ten ASEAN member countries (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam).

 

The meeting comes after a proposal for the establishment of ASEAN Network for Combating IUU Fishing (AN-IUU) was adopted at the 41st Meeting of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF). In her opening remarks Ms. Umaporn Pimolbutra, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Thailand emphasized the importance of AN-IUU in providing an operational framework of sharing information and strengthen regional collaboration against IUU fishing.

 

H.E. Pirkka Tapiola, EU Ambassador to Thailand, highlighted the EU and ASEAN’s longstanding and established partnership and called for the cooperation from ASEAN, as a major producer of fish to join forces with EU as the world’s biggest fish importer in tackling IUU fishing. He said, “The EU stands ready to continue supporting ASEAN in line with ASEAN-EU Plan of Action (2018-2022) of enhancing cooperation in a wide range of areas, including strengthening fisheries cooperation by supporting efforts to combat IUU fishing as well as promoting sustainable fisheries management.”

 

Mr Roberto Cesari, Head of the EU Unit working on IUU fishing in DG MARE emphasised that fighting IUU fishing is much more effective if it is done at the regional level, rather than independently by each country. He stated, “the establishment of an ASEAN IUU Network would certainly be a very valuable asset in the regional fight against IUU. For this reason, the EU is strongly supporting this project. We are confident that this ASEAN IUU Network can be a useful tool to enhance cooperation and coordination among ASEAN Member States.”

 

Nicholas Ntheketha, Chair of FISH-i Africa, and Godfrey Baidoo-Tsibu, representing the West Africa Task Force, shared the experiences, challenges and successes of developing a regional cooperation to fight illegal fishing. Both task forces share a common approach, which rests on the sharing of intelligence and information between fisheries enforcement officers, technical experts and regional organisations, supported by a low-cost on-line communication tool to spur enforcement actions against illegal fishing operators and ultimately contribute to improved compliance.

 

Commenting on the success of FISH-i Africa Nicholas Ntheketha said, “I am delighted to share my experiences from the Western Indian Ocean with the ASEAN region. Of course, the regions are very different, but the tools and mechanisms that FISH-i established are proven to work. The sharing of information on licensed vessels, the identification of high-risk vessels and operators, and the easy communication between enforcement officers will no doubt bring real benefits to the ASEAN countries in their efforts to rid the fisheries sector of illegal fishing and labour abuses.”

 

Sandy Davies, Stop Illegal Fishing, stated, “The development of the AN-IUU comes as the FISH-i mechanisms are being adopted by the Southern African Development Community Regional Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Centre (SADC MCSCC). We see this formalisation of the task force principles in Africa and Asia as a significant step towards true international collaboration to stop illegal fishing. We look forward to strengthening the cooperation and communication between the regions.”

 

Godfrey Baidoo-Tsibu commented, “We hope that learning of the experiences from other regional organizations will facilitate the formation of the AN-IUU. Importantly, some of the countries have been issued with the EU-imposed ‘Yellow Card’ and are in various levels of dialogue with the EU. In addition, vessels from the ASEAN region have been implicated in infractions in the African region. It is hoped that cooperation between the two regions will be further deepened in the fight against IUU in the two regions and internationally.”

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