Illegal fishing and the decline of African fish stocks could be indirectly fuelling crime and piracy
- Climate Negotiations: tackling the big questions before COP22
- The problem is not glyphosate, or DDT, or BPA - we must challenge the entire system!
- No, the UN has not given glyphosate a 'clean bill of health'
- US nuclear industry's plan thanks to NRC: let taxpayers carry the can for closed power plants
Illegal European fishing contributing to poverty and piracy in Africa
20th April, 2011
As European fish stocks decline rapidly the EU’s industrial fishing fleets are increasingly moving into foreign waters and taking away the livelihoods of local fishermen and communities
European fishing vessels are illegally plundering African fish stocks, contributing to poverty and an ‘increase in criminal activity’, say campaign groups.
Fish catches in Europe have been declining by around two per cent a year since the early 1990s with most stocks exploited beyond sustainable levels. This has led to an increasing dependance on fish caught outside of Europe, with European waters as a whole only providing half the fish needed to meet consumer demand.
Many vessels are now travelling further afield to get their catches with around 20 per cent of all fish landed by EU fleets caught outside the EU. Consumers may be largely unaware of this because if the fish is caught by a EU vessel it can still be labelled as EU produce, even if it comes from the waters of a third country.
Some of these vessels have been discovered to be fishing in African waters - a direct violation of EU regulations - where fish stocks are a critical part of both the diets and economies of coastal communities. A delegation of fishermen from Senegal, Cape Verde and Mauritania are meeting European officials in Brussels this week to complain about the unfair competition and over-fishing.
'When we speak to fishermen in the regions, we hear often that it [invasive fishing practices] is increasing poverty and increasing the wish to migrate or find a job elsewhere', said Greenpeace EU oceans’ policy advisor, Saskia Richartz, which is organising the fishermen's visit.
This analysis was shared by the Environmental Justice Foundation; 'Our ongoing surveillance activities have identified vessels owned by companies based in the European Union operating illegally in West African waters and supplying the European seafood market. Their activities compromise the food security of coastal communities, devastate marine environments, undermine legitimate fishers and violate the new EU regulation to eliminate IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing', says EJF's Andrew Hickman.
Overfishing and piracy
Campaigners from both Greenpeace and New Economics Foundation (NEF) believe the increasing decline of natural fish resources could also be indirectly fuelling crime and piracy. 'It’s no surprise that the loss of livelihoods resulting from the depletion of a national asset – fish stocks – combined with the lack of, or weak, governance structures has led to an increase of criminal activity as we’ve seen in places like Somalia,’ says the New Economics Foundation's head of environmental economics Aniol Esteban.
The EU is due to put forward proposals to reform the Common Fisheries Policy, which sets out the rules and catch quotas for individual member states, in July this year. The EU fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki has promised to enforce a stricter regulation of conservation and fisheries laws - something campaigners say they now want to be put into action.
'The reckless disregard for rules and scientific advice by too many officials favours companies that cheat and cut corners. This wrecks the environment and discourages those fishermen that want to make a sustainable living out of the sea. The forthcoming reform of European fisheries must deliver a new rulebook that protects our oceans and ensures the sustainability of fishing,' says Richartz.
How pirate fishing fuels human exodus from Africa to Europe
Illegal fishing to feed European demand for seafood is devastating coastal communities in The Gambia and across West Africa - forcing many people to leave their homeland and make a perilous and sometimes deadly voyage to Europe
EU subsidies linked to overfishing
Study finds large chunk of almost £4 billion in subsidy payments has been used to increase fleet capacity in Europe and 'exacerbate' the problem of overfishing
The West helped create the Somali pirate situation
What few have stopped to consider in the continuing 'battle' against Somali pirates is what industrialised nations have been doing to the country's fishing grounds for years
Is the UK's fishery quota system a violation of human rights law?
The government's historic give-away of public fishing quotas has created an unregulated mess, says academic Thomas Appleby, and we owe it to future generations to sort it out
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall tackles farmed salmon feed controversy
Channel 4 series will look at ecological cost of producing millions of tonnes of fishmeal for Scottish salmon farms - first revealed by the Ecologist back in 2008
Using this website means you agree to us using simple cookies.