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 user 2005-11-03 at 10:52:00 am Views: 30
  • #14488

    Illegal fishing threat to seas

    It is one of the most unregulated, uncontrolled businesses that is going on

    Claude Martin, WWF director-general

    Illegal fishing fleets are plundering the seas by taking advantage of
    rules allowing them to adopt “flags of convenience”, a report has

    The report by the UN
    International Transport Workers’ Federation and WWF calls for the
    abolition of the system, which it describes as corrupt.

    It says some vessels also flout health and safety rules and use forced labour.

    The annual value of illegal fishing has been estimated at $1.2bn (£679m), but the real figure could be far more.

    Flags of convenience can be bought, sometimes over the internet, for
    just a few hundred dollars. This can give a ship the appearance of
    legitimacy within hours.

    The country under whose flag a boat sails is responsible in international law for controlling the activities of that vessel.

    This includes ensuring that it abides by national and international
    regulations, such as fishing quotas and labour and safety standards.

    Landlocked countries

    However, the report says that some countries allowing boats to fly their flags for a fee fail to enforce such rules.

    “We know of fishing vessels that carry up to 12 different flags on
    board, and they re-flag their ship at sea,” Dr Claude Martin,
    director-general of WWF, told the BBC.

    “If landlocked countries sell flags of convenience, they couldn’t care less what’s going on at sea.

    “It is one of the most unregulated, uncontrolled businesses that is going on.”

    Some of the most popular countries for crews seeking flags of
    convenience are Belize, Honduras, Panama; and St Vincent and the

    But it is shipping countries in European Union countries which have the largest number of ships flying these flags.

    Spain, which receives the most generous EU fishing subsidies, tops the list with 46.

    Many vessels, particularly those pursuing high value fish such as
    swordfish and tuna, transfer their catch to other boats to “launder”
    their illegally caught fish.

    In addition to threatening the world’s fisheries,
    bycatch – the incidental capture of non-targeted species – from pirate
    fishing operations is a serious threat to sea turtles, albatross,
    sharks and a range of other species