Connecting Maritime Safety, Security, and Fisheries

By Stop Illegal Fishing:13th Jun, 2017: FISH-i Africa

An event organised by The Pew Charitable Trusts brought together key players from the maritime sector to highlight how threats to the maritime domain interact, and provide thoughts on how cooperation among stakeholders at a national, regional and international level is needed to successfully address each of these issues.

Tony Long, Director of the Ending Illegal Fishing Project for The Pew Charitable Trusts, led the panel discussion and was joined by Elsa Patria of Stop Illegal Fishing, Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti of University College London and Chris Trelawny of the International Maritime Organization.

Common challenges relating to current issues in the maritime domain were discussed including the geopolitical context, a fragmented regulatory framework, resource and capacity shortfalls, all exacerbated by the low priority often attached to fisheries and maritime affairs.

It was agreed that there is a commonality of response required by maritime issues such as piracy, human trafficking, drug and arms smuggling and illegal fishing. “All need situational awareness, a legal framework for action and the ability to interdict. This requires coordination at the national level and to be linked to a regional approach,” commented Chris Trelawny.

“The complexity of stakeholders now involved in the maritime sector with key players drawn from the public and private sector, a range of government departments, NGOs and intergovernmental bodies makes the situation all the more challenging,” stated Neil Morisetti.

The regional FISH-i Africa Task Force was discussed as a model of cooperation and information sharing. Elsa Patria outlined the benefits felt by the members and the wider region. “It may sound simple but sharing of information even between departments of the same government agency did not happen in the past, so for countries to share lists of licensed vessels, and information on inspections or high risk vessels and operators demonstrates a real shift in attitude.”

Tony Long identified the ‘golden thread’ as the need to know “what vessels are licensed, by whom and for what.” Challenges around vessel identity are a factor in all issues relating to safety and security at sea. Elsa Patria said, “Mandatory IMO numbers for fishing vessels would be a good first step to deter illegal fishing and crimes in the fishing sector.”

 

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One in four fish in Africa is caught illegally, this threatens the sustainability of fish stocks, damages the ecosystem and deprives governments of income and people of livelihoods.

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Illegal fishing is a complex issue that requires multifaceted responses. Stop Illegal Fishing are working with a range of organisations to bring about change.

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