Investigations and analysis undertaken by the FISH-Africa Task Force were presented at the 11th International Forum on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing at Chatham House.

Sandy Davies of Stop Illegal Fishing illustrated the effectiveness of FISH-i using four exemplar investigations to demonstrate the types of illegality and crime that are occurring in the fisheries sector throughout the Western Indian Ocean. The cases discussed were STS-50, PREMIER, GREKO 1, and the NAHAM 4s, all of which highlight the modus operandi used by operators who knowingly fail to comply with the law.

The prevalence of deliberate, enabling crimes linked to vessel identity fraud have been a common theme of the FISH-i Africa investigations and have led to a re-evaluation of the best approach to compliance and enforcement. Ms Davies commented, “Vessels are where we need to target the energy. Conducting vessel inspections and cross checking and verifying documents is the most effective and lowest cost means of identifying and stopping the illegal operators.”

“FISH-i has demonstrated that cooperation can be effective in stopping illegal fishing. Our cooperation has grown from five to eight countries and is now expanding to include increased cooperation with relevant flag, port and crew States,” added Ms Davies.

The recent case of the STS-50 shows that this global approach to enforcement is bringing results. Having fled from arrest in China, the vessel was tracked as it attempted to refuel in the Western Indian Ocean. After evading detention in Mozambique, the STS-50 was eventually arrested by the Indonesian Navy as she entered their EEZ.

“Without international cooperation, the STS-50 would never have been detained. The active information sharing with authorities in Africa and Asia led to the successful detention of a known IUU fishing vessel. We look forward to developing stronger links and tightening the net on illegal operators,” stated Elsa Patria, Chairperson Stop Illegal Fishing.