Growing Blue 2021 shines spotlight on links between maritime safety, maritime security, and illegal fishing

By Stop Illegal Fishing:2nd Dec, 2021: Event Coverage

The second Growing Blue International Conference (Crescendo Azul) held in Vilankulo, Mozambique on 18-19 November 2021 provided a forum for discussion on the links between maritime safety, illegal fishing and maritime security.

In a session led by moderator Michele Stallone, a specialist in marine safety, panellists looked at:

  • Measures to combat illegal immigration, trafficking of human beings at sea.
  • Challenges of national EEZ protection in the context of the illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and organized and cross-border crime.
  • Sharing experiences on the challenges of coastal zone protection in the face of threats from organized and cross-border crime.

Elsa Patria, Chair of Stop Illegal Fishing, presented an analysis of the regional IUU situation based on the work of the FISH-i Africa Task Force. FISH-i was established as an informal, operational, monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) network to fight IUU in the Western Indian Ocean. Active from 2012 to 2020, before its assimilation into the SADC Regional Monitoring Control and Surveillance Coordination Centre, FISH-i worked on over fifty investigations and amassed a significant body of evidence on the how, why and the techniques used to commit IUU.

The FISH-i findings highlighted the systematic, deliberate, and transnational nature of the violations and crimes taking place in the fisheries sector. To counter this cooperation is required at a national level between relevant agencies, regionally between neighbouring port and coastal States, and internationally with flag states and international organizations.

Elsa Patria, Growing Blue 2021 Illegal fishing: evidence and analysis POWERPOINT

Per Erik Bergh, Stop Illegal Fishing, considered the actions required to ensure safe and decent working conditions for fisheries workers within Southern African Development Community region. Working in fisheries is one of the most dangerous occupations in the world. The UN estimates 80 lives are lost annually per 100,000 fishers – with four lives lost every hour in the fishery sector. Solutions to address these risks have been identified and incorporated into global policies and guidelines. But the increased demand for fish and seafood, an increase in the number of fishers, and a decrease in fishery productivity, due to overfishing and IUU fishing, has outweighed many of the gains and resulted in an increase in abuse, accidents and deaths.

Drawing on work being done to support the implementation of the Food and Agriculture Organization Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA) in Mozambique, Mr Bergh commented, “Fishing vessels are very often the common link between illegal activity at sea. We see the same vessels and the same operators involved in fisheries violations, associated crimes such as document forgery and forced labour, and a disregard for vessel safety regulations. We must invest now in cleaning up the sector, this will be an investment in ocean health and will help us to secure our planet’s future.”

Per Erik Bergh: Safe and decent working conditions in SADC Fisheries POWERPOINT

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