IUU fishing: Extra-regional fishing fleets present in Indian Ocean: Navy

Source: The post is based on the article “Extra-regional fishing fleets present in Indian Ocean: Navy” published in The Hindu on 14th November 2022.

What is the News?

According to the Indian Navy, as many as 392 reported incidents of Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing were monitored in 2021 compared to 379 in 2020 in the Indian Ocean. Most of the illegal activity is found in the Northern Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

What is Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing?

Illegal, unreported and unregulated(IUU) fishing is a broad term that captures a wide variety of fishing activity.

Illegal fishing: It is conducted by foreign vessels in waters under the jurisdiction of a State, without the permission of that State, or in contravention of its laws and regulations.

Unreported fishing: Fishing which has not been reported or has been misreported, to the relevant national authority, in contravention of national laws and regulations.

Unregulated fishing: Fishing which is conducted in a manner inconsistent with State responsibilities for the conservation of living marine resources under international law.

Who regulates IUU fishing activities?

As per the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), coastal nations are responsible for addressing IUU fishing issues within their respective EEZ. 

There are regional fisheries management organizations such as the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, the Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement operating under the mandate of UNCLOS as regulatory bodies to monitor IUU fishing on the high seas.

What is the impact of IUU fishing?

IUU fishing depletes fish stocks, destroys marine habitats, puts fishermen at disadvantage and impacts coastal communities, especially in developing countries.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization(FAO), IUU fishing activities are responsible for the loss of 11–26 million tonnes of fish each year, which is estimated to have an economic value of US$10–23 billion. 

What are the measures taken and conventions related to IUU fishing?

Joint Quad Monitoring: Quad comprising India, Australia, Japan and U.S. In 2022, the Quad announced a major regional effort under the ambit of Indo-Pacific Maritime Domain Awareness(IPMDA). It aims to provide a more accurate maritime picture of “near-real-time” activities in the region. 

All vessel movements on the high seas are monitored by the Indian Navy’s Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) in Gurugram and the Information Fusion Centre-Indian Ocean Region(IFC-IOR) which is co-located with it.

International regulations: There are two main regulations globally on IUU fishing: the Cape Town Agreement and the Agreement on Ports State Measures. So far, India is not a signatory of either agreement.

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