"Pirate Fishing Exposed": new report investigates Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fisheries in West Africa
Environmental Justice Foundation issued the report "Pirate Fishing Exposed - The Fight Against Illegal Fishing in West Africa and the EU", describing illegal fishing activities in West Africa and outlining the results of the EJF's Community Surveillance project in Sierra Leone. The report highlights that, along with the economic losses (global losses due to Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing are estimated to be between US$10 billion and US$23.5 billion per year), illegal fishing in West Africa severely compromises the food security and livelihoods of coastal communities. In Sierra Leone, fish represents 64 percent of total animal protein consumed in the country, and an estimated 230,000 people are directly employed in fisheries. The report estimates that West African waters have the highest levels of IUU fishing in the world, representing up to 37% of the region’s catch.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki welcomed the report: "I agree with the rationale that illegal fishing activities cause the depletion of fish stocks and impact severely the marine environment, undermining legitimate fishing operators by benefitting from lower costs. The European Commission has closely followed up presumed illegal fishing activities in Sierra Leone waters of several fishing vessels authorised to export to the EU under sanitary rules. As the EU is a potential market for the products concerned, we have launched alert messages to our Member States in order to prevent importations of these products. In parallel, The European Commission has requested investigations from the flag States concerned. Should these fraudulent activities be confirmed, the ongoing process could lead to listing of these vessels on the EU IUU vessels list. When on this "blacklist", they are "banned" from fishing, landing their catches and selling them in the EU."
Between 1st January 2010 and 31st July 2012, EJF’s community surveillance project in southern Sierra Leone received 252 reports of pirate fishing by industrial vessels in inshore areas. EJF’s local staff filmed and photographed 10 different vessels operating illegally, transmitting the evidence to the Sierra Leone Government and European authorities. Nine out of 10 of the vessels are accredited to export their catches to Europe.