In December 2018, the Royal Australian Navy seized over 900 kilograms of heroin from traditional fishing vessels in the Arabian Sea. That same month, a Taiwanese Coast Guard vessel used water cannons to deter illegal fishing by Chinese ships in their waters. And recently, Indian fishermen were arrested by Pakistani officials for illegally fishing in Pakistan’s waters.
Incidents like these only scratch the surface of the security implications of illegal fishing plaguing our ocean. From the waters of South America to the coast of West Africa, illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing is prolific due to poor monitoring and weak enforcement capabilities of governments.
But policymakers and researchers have long grappled with understanding the true extent of the problem.
Other illicit activities, such as the smuggling of drugs, guns and human trafficking, are often hidden in these illegal fishing vessels.
Meanwhile, those countries hardest hit by illegal fishing are the nations least able to respond to the assault, creating a cycle that robs law-abiding fishers of their livelihoods, creates an atmosphere of lawlessness, and denies governments badly needed tax revenue to address the issue.
Policymakers need data to make decisions.
For many in the U.S. government, both on Capitol Hill and in the Executive Branch, as well as in the non-governmental community, understanding the extent of the problem is a key leverage point to encouraging greater engagement and necessary movement on the issue.
The Plan: Build an automated tool that gathers data and evaluates potential IUU fishing events and their relationship to security events.
Many organizations, news outlets, and governments collect or cover IUU fishing incidents, but gathering these incidents in one place has not been done successfully or sustainably. Developing a tool to do the time-intensive work would be an important step to addressing the security challenges of illegal fishing.
This project is pursuing partnership and advisory relationships, including:
- Next steps with ready tools from the data science community
- Technology partners interested in building the tool
- Funding partners who see the potential value of this dataset
- Alternative approaches to gathering data
Contact: Sally Yozell, Senior Fellow and Director of Stimson's Environmental Security Program: firstname.lastname@example.org
Created with images by Oziel Gómez - "Fishing in Istanbul" • Quangpraha - "the fishermen vietnam fishing" • Thomas Vuillemin - "old man and boats" • Jomar - "Capitol Hill Washington D.C." • Luca Bravo - "Code on a laptop screen"