Guidance for Improving Vessel Monitoring and Transparency

Created on Monday, 25 February 2019

Human rights abuses and illegal activities occurring in vessels on the high seas can often happen with impunity – vessels may be operating beyond national jurisdiction and where there is little effective oversight. However, these same abuses continue to receive attention from media, NGOs, and also government. This February, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency issued a “withhold release order” for products from Tunago No. 61 – a vessel known to have harvested tuna with forced labor – effectively blocking its products from import into the U.S.

As the risks of sourcing from regions with little oversight are increasingly clear, it is important for companies to advocate for vessel monitoring and transparency – key steps towards reducing illegal activities and better understanding vessel activity at sea. FishWise’s recent report “Open Water: Guidance on Vessel Transparency for Seafood Companies” identifies various steps for companies, including (but not limited) to the following actions:

  • Requiring all eligible vessels to have an IMO number and electronic vessel monitoring system
  • Encouraging data transfer to public vessel lists
  • Supporting the implementation and adoption of four international agreements related to preventing illegal fishing, improving vessel safety and standards, and protecting workers

By supporting existing initiatives and agreements that could improve vessel transparency, it is hoped that this report will spur action to prevent human rights and safety violations and promote increased monitoring and oversight for distant water fishing fleets. “In order to safeguard human rights and reduce illegal activity at sea, companies – along with NGOs and governments – must commit to initiatives which improve vessel monitoring and transparency,” said Tobias Aguirre, FishWise CEO.