Why should illegal and unreported fishing end? | News

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In 2015, the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean of the United Nations Fund for Food and Agriculture (FAO) proposed that an initiative be launched to establish an International Day to Combat Illegal, Unreported Fishing. and Not Regulated.


UN warns of danger of deepening famine

The date reflects the day that the Agreement on Port State Measures officially entered into force as an international treaty, which marked a historic event, as it is the first legally binding international instrument specifically dedicated to combating this problem.

In December 2017, the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) proclaimed June 5 as the "International Day to Combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing" and declared 2022 as the International Year of Artisanal Fishing and Aquaculture.

Illegal fishing undermines national and regional efforts to conserve and manage fish stocks, so governments need to understand why illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing must end.

depletion of a food source

The sea and its natural resources, including fish, have always been a vital source of food for the development of humanity. At present, where population growth is constant and hunger a persistent problem, fish is an important product to achieve food security.

15 percent of the world's supply of animal protein comes from the sea, according to estimates by various environmental organizations.

However, the efforts of the international community to ensure sustainable fishing are threatened by illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities.

According to the FAO, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is responsible for the loss of 11 to 26 million tons of fish per year, which is equivalent to an estimated economic value between 10,000 and 23,000 million dollars, as well as damage irreversible to marine ecosystems.


Poor species management

Overfishing, added to pollution and the effects of climate change have halved, since 1970, the populations of marine animals. According to FAO reports in 2019, 80 percent of the fish stocks for which data exists are fully exploited.

The world environmental organization Greenpeace warned last year that the abundance of populations of large predators such as cod, tuna and swordfish has declined by 90 percent due to illegal fishing.

Experts estimate that if the current rate of indiscriminate fishing is maintained, by 2048 all species of fish that inhabit the oceans will have disappeared.

People who engage in this type of activity exploit vulnerable populations subject to strict management controls or moratoriums, which prevents them from being able to restore them to healthy rates.

According to the coordinator of the global registration program in the FAO fisheries and aquaculture department, Alicia Mosteiro, this activity has negative consequences in all areas.

"The main one is at the level of the biology of the species that are exploited, since it does not pay attention to the sustainability standards to maintain that species for future generations at an adequate level, extracting larger quantities than are allowed," he assured.

Erosion of marine ecosystems

In the ecological field, these practices cause severe damage to marine ecosystems, since they do not discriminate between the natural resources found in the oceans, in addition to fish.

In this way, populations of coral reefs and aquatic plants are affected, since these types of ecosystems are not taken care of when seeking a great economic benefit in the short term.

Change of value in the production chain

Illegal fishing not only reduces the availability of food for the people who need it most, but also changes the commercial value of the product in the production chain.

Mosteiro explains that it “affects the value chain, processing, transportation, and marketing of these products. When it reaches the consumer, quality is not guaranteed (...) nor is it healthy at the microbiological and metal level."


Impact on the fishing labor market

Statistical figures from the UN in 2019 reflect that legal fishing and aquaculture employed 56 million people in the different jobs related to the activity, such as handling, processing and distribution.

Between 660 and 880 million people, equivalent to 12 percent of the world's population, lived last year from fishing and fish farming. Therefore, people who responsibly and honestly find an economic livelihood in fishing see their livelihoods affected and are exposed to situations of poverty.

On the other hand, illegal fishing is associated with other illegal activities that constitute human rights violations, such as forced labor. This causes adverse effects on workers in the fishing industry and their communities.

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