The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) annual meeting, in Cape Town, South Africa was the event that prompted Pew branding South Korea Seen as the main IUU tune fishing nation In African waters [Atuna 20 Nov 2013]. This IUU fishing costs the continent millions of dollars a year. Activist and environmental organizations are calling for new measure to prevent illegal fishing activities.
These accusations follow a a series of illegal fishing occurrences off West Africa, which involved Dongwon owned or operated vessels. Dongwon is South Korea’s largest tuna fishing company and owns US tuna brand StarKist. A swell as vessels from other South Korean companies like Seokyung Corp
Elizabeth Wilson of the Pew Charitable Trusts’ environmental wing commented that:
“The worldwide value of illegal fishing was estimated between USD 10 billion and USD 23.5 billion in a 2012 report on illegal fishing off Africa by the Environmental Justice Foundation …There are indications that South Korean companies were among the major offenders involved in illegal fishing in African waters… This illegal fishing is a real problem. It’s definitely something that countries are starting to take more seriously and it’s something that we are hoping ICCAT will be looking at.”
What do Pew Propose?
- Permanent Vessel Identification: Pew is calling on the ICCAT meeting to require that all vessels have to carry a permanent identification so that boats cannot change names or flags in order to avoid punishment of illegal fishing operations.
- Catch Documentation Scheme (CDS): Pew is calling on the commission to implement an electronic catch documentation system that digitally records each tuna that is caught. The system is due for implementation in March, but according to Wilson, some states are pressing to move the deadline back.
These proposals come on the back of an issuance of a formal warning ‘yellow card’ to South Korea by the European Union (EU) if it fails to keep up with international obligations to fight illegal fishing (see Atuna [27 Nov 2013] South Korea Risks IUU status in the EU). According to European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki:
“These decisions show our steadfast commitment to tackling illegal fishing. The EU market is negatively affected as are local and EU fishermen. We continue to put pressure on the countries which are fueling the supply chain of illegal fishing be it as a coastal state, flag state, or flag of convenience. West Africa was identified as a major source of illegal fishing and my intention is now take the same thorough approach in the Pacific.”
Atuna notes that currently states such as Belize, Cambodia and Guinea are facing pending sanctions which will prohibit the export of fish products to the EU. This ‘formal warning’ provides South Korea, (along with Ghana and Curaçao) with notice that this could be a potential fate for its country as well.
The ‘concrete failings’ by South Korea prompting the issuance of the formal warning included the lack of actions to address deficiencies in monitoring, controlling and surveillance of fisheries. The EU suggested that South Korea implement corrective actions to resolve its shortcomings.For South Korea the possibility of being blacklisted by the EU is not only embarrassing; it could have real economic impact. Atuna points out, that in July (2013), the Korean National Assembly amended its Water Fisheries Act to help curb illegal fishing. One of the amendments includes an increase in penalties for illegal fishing from a fine of USD 5,000, to a significant maximum fine of three times the value of the fish caught.
- S. Korea displeased with illegal fishing nation designation by EU (koreaherald.com)
- Guinea threatened with EU sanctions for illegal fishing (modernghana.com)
- EU bans fish imports from Belize, Guinea and Cambodia (theguardian.com)
- EU Blacklists 3 Nations Over Illegal Fishing (abcnews.go.com)
- China’s Illegal Fishing Threatens World Waters (businessweek.com)
- British NGO joins fight against illegal fishing in Elmina (ghanabusinessnews.com)
- Activists seeking to stop illegal fishing gather in South Africa (latimes.com)