Insights

SPRFMO Pours Disinfectant on IUU Fishers

Mar 31, 2016

By recently naming the world’s largest fishing vessel as an illegal unreported unregulated (IUU) ship, the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO) made a real contribution to fighting this kind of activity.

As former US jurist Louis Brandies once said, "publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants, electric light, the most efficient policemen."

IUU fishing is certainly a modern industrial 'disease' and the SPRFMO naming the Peruvian flagged Damanzaiho (previously named Lafayette), the world’s largest fishing vessel at 49,367 tonnes, as a IUU vessel helps bring some much needed "disinfectant". SPRFMO also cited another vessel, the Russian flagged Aurora.

In our hyper-connected world, where consumers are able to inform themselves about their purchase decisions, and corporations and governments are increasingly sensitive to their views, publicity about organisations willing to destroy natural resources will become increasingly effective.

Technology offers a huge opportunity to spray more "disinfectant" on IUU fishing vessels worldwide, achieving a long term solution to the problem. For example, a UK initiative by the Pew Charitable Trust and UK Satellite Applications Catapult, is harnessing satellite and other data to identify suspicious fishing activity. While many IUU fishing vessels have no transponders or disabled transponders to prevent location tracking, the Pew/Catapult initiative can use satellite imagery, aligned with algorithms based on historical data, to pinpoint suspicious activity. For example, trans-shipment from smaller boats to larger vessels mid-ocean.

The Pew/Catapult vision is a 'platform' where other organisations can leverage their data. For example, a German supermarket group is already trialing an application where consumers can scan product bar codes in-store to locate exactly where the fish they are buying was caught.

We see an exciting opportunity to start ‘mashing’ emerging data sources and existing technologies to validate the harvest of legitimate fishing operators and increase transparency on those who choose to fish illegally. Above all it is a wonderful chance to pour more ‘disinfectant’ on the IUU fishing activity.

Read about how FINNZ helped the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO), an 11 nation organisation committed to sustainable use of the fishery resources in the South Pacific, to gather data so it’s members can get a better picture of the impact of commercial fishing on their region.

Read more about our fisheries work here.

Posted on February 17, 2015

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