Illegal fishing undermining seafood industry: FAO

By: | Published: March 23, 2016 12:08 AM

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU), estimated to be worth between $10-23 billion annually, is undermining the seafood industry...

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU), estimated to be worth between $10-23 billion annually, is undermining the seafood industry, officials of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in Kochi on Tuesday. Seafood products are among the most widely traded food commodities in the world, with estimates for 2015 placing the value of international fish trade at $130 billion.

IUU fishing, which includes operating without authorisation, harvesting protected species, using outlawed fishing gear and violating quota limits, could account for up to 26 million tonne (MT) a year, or more than 15 % of the world’s total annual capture fisheries output, FAO sources said at a workshop on IUU fishing.

Victoria Chomo, FAO Fishery Industry Officer and workshop organiser, said, “The country recommendations and indicators developed at the workshop will be incorporated into an FAO report on good practices in national traceability systems in Asia, to be used as a self-assessment tool by FAO member countries, and to identify their further capacity building needs.”

Illegal fishing takes place where vessels operate in violation of the laws of a nation or a regional grouping.

Unreported fishing is fishing that has been unreported or misreported to the relevant national authority or regional organisation, in contravention of applicable laws and regulations. Unregulated fishing generally refers to fishing by vessels without nationality, or vessels flying the flag of a country not party to the regional organisation governing that fishing area or species.

Fishing community in India has also been complaining of large scale illegal trawling by foreign vessels in the Indian coast, particularly during the time of monsoon when mechanised fishing is banned along the coast.

Strict regulation could also help in stopping the destruction of endangered species like the Olive Ridley turtles of Odisha which are killed in thousands by the illegal trawlers in the Odisha coast.

An international instrument to counter IUU fishing is awaiting ratification.

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