IUU tuna fishing crackdown in the Pacific
A two week surveillance operation of illegal tuna fishing in the Pacific has confirmed how necessary data collection is to stop IUU fishing in the region, reducing the loss of fish industry earnings by up to $1bn.
More than 320 vessels were sighted, 206 were boarded and 27 infringements were recorded during the operation in November.
Kurukuru 2012 was the region’s biggest ever surveillance operation and involved five maritime patrol aircraft, 12 patrol boats, a frigate and a Coast Guard boat all surveying an area of approximately 30 million square kilometres.
The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) are working together to put exact figures on these losses suffered by the industry by building a comprehensive data network.
The Kurukuru operation helped inform the early stages of a $10-million European Union-funded project known as DEVFISH2 – the Development of Tuna Fisheries in the Pacific African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries.
The project will be improving information management and data analysis as a means of providing additional deterrence for illegal fishing.
Hugh Walton, FFA policy specialist and team leader for the DEVFISH2 project says the measure of success of these projects is not just about the number of fishing vessels recorded or violations detected.
“There needs to be effective deterrence – proper penalties for deliberate misreporting or underreporting catch sizes, compliance with licence conditions, and the means to enforce license conditions,” says Mr Walton.
The SPC and FFA aim to have the improved information management and data screening systems in place over the next 12 months.