New: Evidence Collection Manual for Fisheries Enforcement: Implementing Port State Measures

By Stop Illegal Fishing:30th Nov, 2020: FISH-i Africa · Port State Measures to Stop Illegal Fishing · Securing convictions

A new practical manual Evidence Collection Manual for Fisheries Enforcement: Implementing Port State Measures is now available from Stop Illegal Fishing.

Developed to assist fisheries enforcement officers, particularly those working in African ports, to gain an understanding about why evidence is important, different types and classes of evidence, the manual provides practical guidance on how to collect and use evidence.

Fisheries enforcement officers collect evidence, firstly to determine whether there are grounds for taking enforcement action, and if so, to present the evidence to a court or tribunal to decide whether guilt has been established. Once guilt has been determined, the court or tribunal must decide what the appropriate sanction is for the violation. Following a conviction in a criminal court this can be a fine or imprisonment, or both, and the forfeiture of the instruments such as the vessel or gear or objects of the offence such as the fish caught without a licence.

Drawing on case material from investigations and inspections the manual illustrates the importance of evidence collection and the challenges officers face. While this manual focuses on port State measures inspections, the principles and information contained in it will be relevant to many fisheries situations when evidence collection is required.

For fisheries enforcement officers, understanding evidence types and classes, what makes evidence admissible and how to collect and use this evidence is an important addition to their knowledge and skills to ensure that those committing fisheries violations and crimes do not go unpunished.

Per Erik Bergh, Stop Illegal Fishing Coordinator, commented, “Through the Port State Measures to Stop Illegal Fishing (PSM-SIF) initiative we have identified areas where officers need support to enable the effective inspection and enforcement action. Collecting evidence is critical to taking action against illegal operators. Identifying illegalities is not enough, we need to make sure that crime does not pay.”

Elsa Patria, Stop Illegal Fishing Chairperson, stated, “For many years we have seen illegal fishing offences receiving administrative fines that do not act as sufficient deterrent for many operators. By supporting port inspectors and building capacity to take strong action we are a step closer to stopping illegal fishing.”

The Evidence Collection Manual for Fisheries Enforcement has been produced by Stop Illegal Fishing as part of their support to the Port State Measures to Stop Illegal Fishing initiative, which is funded by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Cases have been drawn from the investigations of FISH-i Africa, an operational task force developed by East African countries and Stop Illegal Fishing to fight illegal fishing in the Western Indian Ocean. The Waterloo Foundation has provided a grant to Stop Illegal Fishing to support the work of FISH-i Africa.

The Manual is currently available in English and French, with a Portuguese language version in development.

 

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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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