FishWise at International Forum on Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing

Created on Thursday, 10 May 2018

During May 3-4 Mark Richardson attended the 11th International Forum on Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing hosted by Chatham House, part of the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London, UK. The annual two-day event brings together over 100 leading policymakers, researchers, industry representatives, and civil society groups to discuss the latest initiatives, regulations, and research available to improve fisheries governance and combat IUU fishing around the world. This year’s event started with a special session called “following the money” that explored the role of banks and other financial institutions in helping to combat IUU fishing. Many financial institutions may unknowingly expose themselves to risk if their investments or lines of credit are somehow linked to illegal fishing operations. A good discussion followed on how best to engage with the financial sector on IUU issues, and how to characterize different forms of risk. The Norwegian Government Pension Fund, a sovereign wealth fund with assets of more than $1 trillion USD, gave an overview of how it includes IUU fishing risk as part of its environmental, social, and governance (ESG) due diligence review of all its investments.  Day 1 also included panels on the links between IUU fishing and other transnational crimes, an interactive session to explore possible improvements to the current European Union’s Control Regulation that governs EU fishing fleet activities, and opportunities for technology such as the Global Fishing Watch satellite data platform to provide more visibility into fishing vessel activity around the world.

As the first panel on Day 2, Mark joined representatives from The Guardian newspaper, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the International Labor Organization (ILO), and The Pew Charitable Trusts, to discuss the links between labor rights, working conditions, slavery, and IUU fishing. Following panel presentations on recent media coverage of forced labor and human rights violations in fisheries and international treaties administered by the IMO and ILO that can help address these issues, Mark provided an overview of FishWise’s counter-IUU and social responsibility work as well as an overview of FishWise’s newest project, the Seafood Alliance for Legality and Traceability (SALT). The last day of the conference concluded with an overview of efforts to combat IUU fishing throughout Central America, followed by a presentation on industry perspectives on IUU fishing. New England Seafood gave a great overview of its due diligence framework to help mitigate IUU risk as it sources seafood from all over the world. The last panel also included a member of the International Pole and Line Foundation from the Maldives, who described his work to develop a mobile app for a fisheries information system that is providing traceability and electronic logbook services for local fisherpeople there. It was a great way to wrap up the conference and highlight some the key ways in which industry can make a difference in the global fight against IUU fishing.