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Interpol to get involved in fighting IUU fishing?

24 February 2013

Interpol has announced that it will hold its 1st Interpol International Fisheries Enforcement Conference, followed by a Fisheries Crime Working Group meeting. On this occasion, Interpol will launch an initiative to detect, combat and suppress fisheries crime. The initiative is expected to improve the exchange of fisheries control information and intelligence between countries. The future permanent Interpol Fisheries Crime Working Group will provide recommendations to ensure international cooperation between Interpol and national fisheries control authorities. It will also provide recommendations for putting in place assistance to countries where fisheries law enforcement is lacking. Fisheries ministers of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Spain, Togo, etc. are due to participate in the conference.

Some environmental groups, such as Pew and Greenpeace – which are also directly involved in operations against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, providing material to coastal developing countries – are calling for Interpol to get involved in the fight against IUU fishing. In a recent report about the difficulties encountered by Palau to deter IUU fishing, a Greenpeace representative commented that such difficulties highlight the need for an Interpol for the Oceans.

Editorial comment

The fact that Interpol is developing such an initiative in fisheries may be of interest to ACP countries to help them fight criminal organisations active in their fisheries. However, there needs to be a multifaceted approach to fighting IUU difficulties, which includes promoting more transparency and accountability for the allocation of access to fish resources, increasing human and technical capacities to police their waters, and promoting international tools to combat IUU fish trade, in line with the FAO International Plan of Action to deter and eliminate IUU fishing. 

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