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The Billion Dollar Reward On Stopping IUU Pacific Ocean, January 3, 13

Advances in fighting illegal tuna fishing could lead to an extra one billion dollars for member nations of the Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), according to Mark Young, director of the FFA’s fisheries operations.
In a recent interview with an Australian radio station, Young said the estimates of the costs and scope of illegal fishing in the region are becoming more accurate. This is largely due to improvements in data collection and analysis.
The use of new technologies such as electronic tablets and satellites is allowing the agency to monitor reporting in real time, says Young. He says the biggest risk to illegal fishing is in the amount of misreporting or non-reporting of catch.
The fishing vessels in the western and central Pacific Ocean currently operate under a vessel monitoring system, which enables the FFA to track their whereabouts. The agency then uses data sets from observer reports and catch and effort log sheets to analyze the fishing operations and to find anomalies or trends associated with the activities of the vessels.
The real time electronic data reporting, Young says, helps the FFA when the vessels come into port. They can compare the data collection to the catch on board, which helps them identify if misreporting is occurring and to what extent.
One of the main issues is that vessels are able to transship at sea, possibly without observers around, so there are opportunities to misreport, Young says.
Besides closing those loopholes, Young says it’s also important to deter illegal fishing by maintaining harsh penalties for the activity across the region. Some captains think being caught is just the cost of doing business, he says.