The fish and seafood industry is one of the big sectors of the global economy. It is a major source of food, employs millions of people and is the econmic foundation of a very large number of families and communties.
While there are huge amounts of fish in the sea, the industry is limited by the finite amount of the fish in the sea, and the rate at which fish stocks are able to reproduce and grow.
There are important competitive tensions between different parts of the industry, and especially between local fishing intereests and distant water fishing companies.
There are strong regulations concerning amount of fishing effort, type of gear, location and time of fishing, amount of catch by specie.
There is very weak enforcement of much of the applicable regulation.
Data collection is difficult and probably not complete.
One of the World’s Most Notorious Illegal Fishing Crews Is Fined $17 Million ... Sea Shepherd’s dogged pursuit of the vessel Thunder has resulted in jail time, big penalties, and a breakthrough in how to catch ocean poachers.
Sea-Shepherd-investigation about illegal commerce in Shark Fins
Operation Jodari 2018 Sea Shepherd's First Partnership to Stop Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing in East Africa
In January 2018, Tanzanian law enforcement agents joined Sea Shepherd on board the Ocean Warrior, working alongside Captain Adam Meyerson and Sea Shepherd crew to patrol Tanzania's sovereign waters against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and other crimes.
IUU Fishing and Other Illegal Activities
It is estimated that between 11 and 26 million tonnes of fish is caught globally through illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing per year. Developing countries are particularly vulnerable to IUU fishing and approximately USD $1 billion is lost to IUU fishing in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region annually. Tanzania is particularly concerned about unlicensed foreign industrial vessels fishing in Tanzania’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), illegal transshipment of fish at sea, fishing vessels involved in identities fraud, misreporting or underreporting of catch, discarding of by-catch, fishing with unauthorized fishing gear, and fishing vessels involved in transnational organized crimes such as human, drug and weapons trafficking.
Operation Jodari's Mission
A Multi-Agency Partnership with Tanzanian Authorities
Operation Jodari is a partnership with the Tanzanian government to stop IUU fishing by training and assisting Tanzanian officers in monitoring, control and surveillance of all fishing activity in Tanzanian waters, including fishing vessel inspections and boarding procedures. To do this, Sea Shepherd is providing the Ocean Warrior civilian patrol vessel with experienced crew, while the Tanzanian government is providing 10 law enforcement agents (LEAs) with the Deep Sea Fishing Authority, Tanzanian Navy and the Multi-Agency Task Team (MATT). The LEAs have the authority to board, inspect and arrest vessels in violation of Tanzanian law. The MATT is led by the Tanzania Police Force and includes the Tanzania Forest Services, the Wildlife Division, Fisheries Division, Tanzania Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Tanzania Intelligence and Security Service. It was formed to target individuals and networks that control environmental crime in the region and the illegal trade in wildlife.
Conservation Partnerships and Initiatives in Africa
Operation Jodari is supported by Fish-i Africa, a partnership of eight East African countries including Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles and Somalia that fosters information-sharing and regional cooperation to combat large-scale illegal fishing in the Western Indian Ocean. Operation Jodari is also a continuation of Sea Shepherd Global's Voluntary Commitment for the Ocean, established in the 2017 United Nations Ocean Conference in NYC (#OceanAction17190), to partner with African Coastal States to eradicate IUU fishing in their sovereign waters. Other campaigns include Operation Albacore in Gabon and São Tomé and Príncipe, and Operation Sola Stella in Liberia.
Sea Shepherd -v- Japanese Poaching of Whales in Australian Fisheries Reserve
The hunting of whales has been controlled now for many decades. A small quantity of whales are permitted to be captured 'for research purposes' by Japan and others, but this permission has been abused mainly by Japanese fishing companies which hunt illegally.
The Sea Shepherd organization has tried hard to make this issue more widely known.
At the national level, the Japanese Government has withdrawn from the international fishing agreement related to capture of whales arguing that the Antarctic is in need of much more research.
Liberia has had a robust artisanal fishery for a long time. Many of the participants originate from the Fanti tribe from Ghana. The men got to sea to catch fish, and on shore there are active fish smoking operations. The smoked fish are sold to traders who travel inland.
Industrial scale fishing in Liberia
Back in the days of President Tolbert, the Mesurado Fishing Company controlled the industrial scale fishing in Liberia. Continental Seafoods (CSF) operated in Liberia from the Monrolivia fishing port in association with Mesurado sharing shore facilities including a shrimp processing plant, cold stores and vessel maintenance facilities including a syncholift. Mesurado and CSF operated 16 shrimp trawlers each from Monrovia
There was a coup in Liberia in 1982, and Corporal Doe took over the Presidency after killing President Tolbert. Doe gutted the Liberian economy and eventually was deposed, and the country descended into a civil war with a lot of killing. Almost 20 years after the Doe coup, Charles Taylor was tried and convicted of war crimes by the International Criminal Court. In the background of this picture there is the Mesurado shrimp processing plant, cold store, etc. and closer there is the small Continental Seafoods office.
TPB Note: I did an assignment for the World Bank / IFC early in the Doe presidency to assess the possibility of reorganization and rehabilitation of the Mesurado Group of companies, and especially the fishing unit. My report concluded that the risk was too high, and while my report was not what the client wanted, I argue that I was absolutely right. Within two years Liberia became the first country ever to renege on its World Bank loans and later descended into a full blown civil war with associated atrocities as evidenced by the picture above.
Fisheries Sector in Guinea Bissau
Guinea Bissau is a coastal nation in West Africa between Guinea (Conakry) and Senegal. The fish resources are rich, but exploited mainly for the benefit of international fishing actors.
Historically, Guinea Bissau gained its independence from Portugal with the assistance of the Soviet Union, and this relationship was used to obtain favorable agreements with regard to Soviet (and later Russian) access to the fishing resources.
It was widely known in Guinea Bissau that the Russian trawlers operating in the fishery were misreporting their fishing effort and catch, including identifying shrimp catch as 'fish'. This distorts the data and makes analysis meaningless. It also changes the economic reporting significantly since shrimp has a market price that is far higher than most finfish.
TPB Note: During the 1980s and 90s I did a number of consultancy assignments in Guinea Bissau for the United States and international investors. When I first went to Guinea Bissau it was very much under the influence of the Soviet Union, and like most countries under communist control, retail stores had almost nothing to sell. At the time, I remember observing that in most of the wrld, the capital city was at the center of affluence and more remote areas were poorer, but in the case of Guines Bissau, the capital city was poor and the nearer one got to the border with neigboring countries, the richer everyone was!
One of my assignments from the UN was to review a consultancy report prepared by the Icelandic firm Virkir on the rehabilitation of the Guines Bissau fishing sector. The consultant's work had been funded by the Kuwait Fund. Iceland, of course, has an important fisheries sector, but very different from the fishery in Guinea Bissau. I was asked to rework the Virkir recommendations in a way that woulde be more suited to the economic conditions of Guines Bissau and the fisheries' possibilities. Part of the problem wass that fleet of Russian fishing vessels were being allowed to operated in the national territorial waters as part of the repayment owed in connection with the country's independence from Portugal.
Setting the stage .. the damage to the artisanal fisheries of Sierra Leone
Pirate Fishing in Sierra Leone
This story about Sierra Leone was filmed around 2014, almost 40 years since I had my own personal experiences in these waters. Sadly fisheries governance around the African coast has deteriorated rather than improved since the 1970s. Where there are opportunities for profit, there are also incentives for corruption and the buying of influence.
Telling the story is a start, but what follow up has their been? In my experience, the story is not enough, and I would expect that the reality on the ground has not changed at all for the better.
TPB Note: In the 1970s I was the CFO of Continental Seafoods Inc (CSF), a US based company with shrimp fishing operations, processing plants and marketing in more than 26 jurisdictions. and have maintained my interest in the problems of fisheries since then. While CSF operated to very high standards, I learned a lot about other operators that had scant regard for the law, or morality of any sort.
Pirate Fishing in Sierra Leone
This interactive presentation of an Al Jazeera investigation of illegal fishing in the waters of Sierra Leone just scratches the surface of the problem.
CONCLUSION 3 ... THE REALITY IS BREXIT WILL PROBABLY CREATE MORE LOSERS THAN WINNERS IN FISHERIES
Principles for Investment in Sustainable Wild-Caught Fisheries
1. Compliance with local, national and international fisheries laws and regulations
2. Current environmental status
3. Future environmental status
4. Monitoring and enforcement
5. Traceability and transparency
6. Human rights
7. Stakeholder engagement
8. Stakeholder access
9. Food, nutrition and livelihood security
TrueValueMetrics (TVM) is an Open Source / Open Knowledge initiative. It has been funded by family and friends. TVM is a 'big idea' that has the potential to be a game changer. The goal is for it to remain an open access initiative.