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Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Asia and the Pacific region

Gary Morgan, Consultant

159. Mr Morgan noted that IUU was not an emerging issue in the sense that is has been prevalent in the region for many decades. However, the will to address the issue is emerging. It was strongly recommended that the region address the issue of IUU fishing, which currently is estimated to cost the region some $5.8 billion annually in economic losses. There is also a range of social issues, including forced labour on fishing vessels. This has become increasingly important to the fisheries in the region as fish stocks have become serially depleted.

160. IUU fishing is important in the region and includes IUU fishing in a nation's EEZ by nationals of that EEZ, the incursion of foreign fishing in another country's EEZ and IUU fishing on the high seas.

161. A recent analysis shows that many countries do not have the legislative or material capacity to adequately address IUU fishing and that there is no mechanism in place for regional coordination of management measures, including management of foreign vessels access to EEZs and international waters. Only two counties make it an offence to fish in another country's EEZ. Loose access arrangements in EEZs also lead to increased IUU fishing. Monitoring, control and surveillance are also poorly developed across the region and overall, surveillance is ineffective and compliance is low (there is a less than 10 percent chance of being caught in any one year).

162. Noting that much of the region's sea area lies within national Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) and the extent of international waters is limited mainly to the Indian Ocean and the Western and Central Pacific, the responsibility for controlling IUU fishing rests largely with national governments of the region. However, to be successful, this will require regional cooperation that includes coordinated access arrangements, regional registers of foreign vessels, uniform vessel identification, regional coordinated data collection and exchange of monitoring, control and surveillance activities.

163. It was recommended that countries should sign onto and implement the international instruments that are in place to address the management of shared stocks and IUU fishing, such as the UN Straddling Stocks Convention and the FAO Compliance Agreement, but they have more often relied on bilateral arrangements, which are usually not coordinated within the region.

164. There is an urgent need for countries to begin to manage the issue of overcapacity of their national fishing fleets, to review national legislation with regards IUU fishing and to support international initiatives on the management of shared stocks and IUU fishing. To achieve such a coordinated regional approach to IUU fishing, it is also recommended that consideration be given to the establishment of a regional fisheries management organization. APFIC has a role to play facilitating regional cooperation and cooperation. APFIC could provide a regional (subregional) forum for sharing information on IUU issues.

165. In response to Mr Morgan's presentation, it was noted that controlling the sale of IUU catches made in high seas areas through national markets is important for countries in the region. It was also observed that in the Indian context there are different types of fleets crossing borders illegally. The lack of bilateral agreements makes these activities IUU activities, when moving across borders may be an important livelihood activity and acceptable from a stock status point of view. In such cases better access agreements could solve problems of IUU. Finally, it was noted that although the presentation focused exclusively on marine waters, IUU in inland waters is also a problem that needs addressing.

Recommendations of the APFIC Regional Consultative Forum Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU)

166. The forum noted that the region must address the issue of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU)
fishing, which is considered to be a significant cost to the region. Noting that much of the region's sea
area (especially in the Southeast and East Asian region) lies within national Exclusive Economic Zones
(EEZs) and the extent of international waters is limited, the responsibility for controlling IUU fishing rests
largely with the national governments of the region.

The regional consultative forum meeting noted that:

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