IUU fishing is not simply a conservation and sustainability issue, it is also a national security issue, intertwined with geopolitical stability.
The perpetrators of IUU fishing are not just the local fisherman catching a bit more than his quota allows. It includes foreign vessels fishing illegally in another nation's sovereign waters, to illicit networks that are linked to piracy and terrorism, as well as trafficking of drugs, arms, and people.
Commercial fishing is big business, with a complex global supply chain.
On any given day, a fish can be caught in East Africa, transported to Asia for processing, and then shipped onward to Europe or the United States, where it eventually makes its way to a consumer’s plate.
As seafood moves further along the supply chain and further away from where it was originally harvested, it becomes exceedingly difficult to determine whether it was legally caught.
Estimates suggest 20 to 50 percent of the global fish catch is either illegally caught, mislabeled, never reported, or from a fishery without any management regime.
Arms traffickers have also been known to use fishing vessels to smuggle their product. For example, in 2016 an Australian naval ship interdicted a dhow off the coast of Yemen smuggling a whole host of weapons. Reports speculated that the intended final destination of the weapons was Yemen—which ultimately would likely have helped fuel the ongoing civil war.
1) Photo by Erwan Hesry, Unsplash 2) Photo by U.S. Southern Command 3) Photo by UNFAO Fisheries and Acquaculture Department 4) Photo by Fredrik Ohlander, Unsplash 5) Photo by Duangphorn Wiriya, Unsplash 6) Photo by Anastasia Palagutina, Unsplash