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Tackling IUU Tuna As World Oceans Day Approaches Global, June 7, 13

Illegal, unreported and unregistered Tuna fishing poses one of the major challenges facing the sustainable management of the world’s oceans.
On the eve of World Oceans Day (tomorrow, Saturday June 8), Professor Alistair McIlgorm from the UOW’s Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS) warns that in the Pacific, South East Asian and Indian Ocean, areas adjacent to Australia are being subjected to illegal fishing by a range of international vessels.
“Unregistered grey nameless vessels maraud across the world oceans fishing on the high seas, but flaunt the fishery regulations that apply in national Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ). These vessels are outside the processes of international law and operate in the illegal side of international fish trade,” he said.
Today the regional co-operative sanction for illegal fishing is"provisionally blacklisting "and if the situation is not remedied, a ”full illegal, unreported and unregistered fishing blacklisting” ensues. The name of the vessel is published internationally and its fish catch can no longer enter into legal international fish trade – an economic death for the illegal fisher.
Professor McIlgorm said the severity of the punishment, reflected a high degree of deterrence for the cases that are proven and get to this stage.
“But in reality many illegal fishing episodes go undetected, undermining sustainable management regimes by depleting global fish stocks.”
Forms of unreported catch occur when a fish cargo carrying “reefer vessel” arrives in the ocean fishing grounds and unreported tuna catches are transferred to the refer vessel illegally at sea, as opposed to under the watchful eye of port authorities with log books for record purposes.
The management system is “short circuited” as the reefer vessel lands fish in an Asian port where its illegal origin is insufficiently questioned.
Professor McIlgorm said those in legitimate fish trade know the need for supply chains with “certified fish”, particularly if they wish to export to the EU where proof of vessel of production is tagged to the processed product. The EU does not permit illegal, unreported and unregistered fish to enter.

The tapestry of skills and resources needed to address such issues are called “Monitoring, Control and Surveillance” (MCS). A combination of law, policy, management and technical surveillance and information processing skills that require specific training. ANCORS at the University of Wollongong is providing law of the sea, fisheries management and MCS training to fisheries department officials from a range of less developed Pacific, Asian and Indian Ocean countries under Australia Awards Fellowships, funded by the Australian Government through AusAID.

In the last 24 months several dozen fishery officials from Indonesia, 10 states in the Caribbean, and five nations in the East of the Indian Ocean have been fellowship participants receiving training in AAF short course programs. In June/July 2013, 20 participants from East African and Indian Ocean island nations will attend a three- week AAF in Wollongong.

“Ocean Day is an international celebration of the sea’s value to humanity, but it also behoves us to set systems and actions in place, to keep the ocean’s sustainable for 365 days a year – that’s the on-going challenge that Australia is assisting among key fisheries management staff in developing countries internationally”, he said.