Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are effective resource management and conservation measures, but their success is often hindered by non-compliant activities such as poaching. Understanding the risk factors and spatial patterns of poaching is therefore crucial for efficient law enforcement. Here, we conducted explanatory and predictive modelling of poaching from recreational fishers within no-take zones of Australia's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP) using Boosted Regression Trees (BRT). Combining patrol effort data, observed distribution of reported incidents, and spatially-explicit environmental and human risk factors, we modeled the occurrence probability of poaching incidents and mapped poaching risk at fine-scale. Our results: (i) show that fishing attractiveness, accessibility and fishing capacity play a major role in shaping the spatial patterns of poaching; (ii) revealed key interactions among these factors as well as tipping points beyond which poaching risk increased or decreased markedly; and (iii) highlight gaps in patrol effort that could be filled for improved resource allocation. The approach developed through this study provide a novel way to quantify the relative influence of multiple interacting factors in shaping poaching risk, and hold promises for replication across a broad range of marine or terrestrial settings.
Protected areas are the primary management tool for conserving ecosystems, yet their intended outcomes may often be compromised by poaching. Consequently, many protected areas are ineffective ‘paper parks’ that contribute little towards conserving ecosystems. Poaching can be prevented through enforcement and engaging with community members so they support protected areas. It is not clear how much needs to be spent on enforcement and engagement to ensure they are frequent enough to be effective at conserving biodiversity. We develop models of enforcement against illegal fishing in marine protected areas. We apply the models to data on fishing rates and fish biomass from a marine protected area in Raja Ampat, Indonesia and explore how frequent enforcement patrols need to be to achieve targets for coral reef fish biomass. Achieving pristine levels of reef fish biomass required almost year-round enforcement of the protected area. Surveillance of the protected area may also be enhanced if local fishers who support the reserve report on poaching. The opportunity for local fishing boats to participate in surveillance was too small for it to have much benefit for total reef fish biomass, which increases slowly. However, specific functional groups of fish have much higher population growth rates and their biomass was predicted to increase markedly with community surveillance. We conclude that budgets for park management must balance the cost of conducting frequent patrols against supporting alternative activities, like education to build community support. Optimized budgets will be much more likely to achieve ecological targets for recovering fish biomasses and will contribute to fiscal sustainability of protected areas.
Poaching renders many of the world’s marine protected areas ineffective. Because enforcement capacity is often limited, managers are attempting to bolster compliance by engaging the latent surveillance potential of fishers. However, little is known about how fishers respond when they witness poaching. Here, we surveyed 2,111 fishers living adjacent to 55 marine protected areas in seven countries and found that 48% had previously observed poaching. We found that the most common response was inaction, with the primary reasons being: (1) conflict avoidance; (2) a sense that it was not their responsibility or jurisdiction; and (3) the perception that poaching was a survival strategy. We also quantified how institutional design elements or conditions were related to how fishers responded to poaching, and highlight ways in which fishers can be engaged while mitigating risks. These include emphasizing how poaching personally affects each fisher, promoting stewardship and norms of personal responsibility and poverty alleviation to reduce the need for fishers to poach for survival.
Very large marine protected areas are in danger of becoming 'paper parks'. This paper uses an interdisciplinary team to investigate the use of remote sensing technologies to provide sufficient evidence for effective fisheries management. It uses the intended marine protected area around Ascension Island as a case study. Satellite technology provides opportunities to detect the presence of fishing vessels but because of difficulties with data interpretation, it is unlikely to be a sole source of evidence for prosecutions. Developing drone technology and traditional over-flights by aerial surveillance may supplement satellite technology with 'eyewitness’ evidence. Well-crafted regulations will be able to make some use of this data, but the evidential requirements of criminal courts make prosecutions difficult to pursue. There is some scope to expand management opportunities through vesting the fishery in a public body and pursuing offenders through civil law, this approach having a different suite of remedies. Other opportunities lie in giving very large marine protected areas legal personality which has similar advantages and additional reputational benefits. Using remote sensing data in the civil court poses evidential problems. An alternative approach is to collate data around frequent infringers and, by negatively impacting on their reputation, restrict their ability to obtain insurance, finance, access to fisheries and market access. This is exemplified in port state measures by fisheries authorities and chain of custody requirements by labelling bodies. Data sharing raises challenges with intellectual propertyand coordination. The paper demonstrates that there are opportunities to make VLMPAs work more effectively.
For the past two decades, the need to shield strategic maritime interests, to tackle criminality and terrorism at or from the sea and to conserve valuable marine resources has been recognized at the highest political level. Acknowledging and accounting for the interplay between climate change, the vulnerability of coastal populations and the occurrence of maritime criminality should be part of any ocean governance process. Still, given the complex interactions between climate change and socio-economic components of the marine realm, it has become urgent to establish a solid methodological framework, which could lead to sound and effective decisions. We propose that any such framework should not be built from scratch. The adaptation of well tested, existing uncertainty-management tools, such as Cumulative Effect Assessments, could serve as a solid basis to account for the magnitude and directionality of the dependencies between the impacts of climate change and the occurrence of maritime criminality, offering spatial explicit risk evaluations. Multi-Criteria Decision Making could then be employed to better and faster inform decision-makers. These mechanisms could provide a framework for comparison of alternative mitigation and adaptation actions and are essential in assessing responses to tackle maritime crime in the context of climate change.
Although there is no fishing activity within the central Arctic Ocean at present, commercial fishing activity does occur in the high seas areas of the North Atlantic and North Pacific, and within the exclusive economic zone of the Arctic coastal States. Climate change will most probably lead to an increase in fishing activity, through the reduction in sea ice, opening up new areas of the Arctic to fisheries, including the Central Arctic Ocean. This prospect has fuelled intensive negotiations—still ongoing—for the signing of a legally binding agreement to prevent unregulated fisheries therein. What seems missing, though, from both the ongoing negotiations on this agreement and the scholarly literature is reference to fisheries enforcement in the Arctic. Accordingly, this article identifies the most effective tools that could be employed for fisheries enforcement purposes, including port and flag State measures, and addresses their potential application in the Arctic.
Around the globe, nations are creating marine protected areas (MPAs) that prohibit some or all fishing and other potentially harmful activities. MPAs can allow sensitive habitats and ecosystems to prosper in a natural state and can enable recovery of commercial, recreational, and subsistence fisheries, among other benefits. All too often, however, MPAs exist only on paper. These countries may lack strong legal authority to enable enforcement in their MPAs, further limiting their ability to detect and prosecute offenses. This is especially problematic for large-scale, remote MPAs that are typically located far offshore from the coastal state and face threats from illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities carried out by distant water fishing vessels flagged in far-away countries.
Legal Tools for Strengthening Marine Protected Area Enforcement: A Handbook is a new resource for countries seeking to improve enforcement for their existing MPAs or to write new MPA laws with an eye toward compliance and enforcement. Drawing on the input and experience of an expert advisory group, the Handbook introduces a set of principles for effective MPA enforcement to guide policymakers and legal drafters. It then presents a variety of legal tools and approaches available to improve a country’s MPA enforcement and compliance, together with sample provisions that countries may use to implement these reforms through targeted national legislation, regulations, international agreements, or other legal instruments. Topics covered include the powers of enforcement officials, detection of offenses, adjudication, penalties, international collaboration, the role of local communities, and more.
A substantial amount of scientific effort goes into understanding and measuring compliance in fisheries. Understanding why, how and when fishers follow or violate rules is crucial for designing effective fishery policies that can halt overfishing. Non-compliance was initially explained almost exclusively with reference to economic and self-interested motivations. More recently, however, most explanations involve a combination of economic, social, political and environmental factors. Despite this recent development towards more holistic explanations, many scientists continue to frame the issue in binary terms: fishers either follow rules, or they don't. In this article we challenge this binary interpretation and focus attention on the diversity of fishers’ dispositions and perceptions that underpin compliant behaviour. To this aim we construct a typology of fishers’ responses towards regulation and authorities, thereby developing conceptual tools to understand different motivations and attitudes that underlie compliance outcomes. For this purpose, we identify the motivational postures of ‘creativity’ and ‘reluctance’, and then highlight their empirical relevance with an interview study of Swedish fishers. Reasons for studying the quality and diversity of fishers’ motivations and responses are not purely academic. Conceptualizing and observing the quality of compliance can help policymakers and managers gauge and anticipate the potentiality of non-compliant fishing practices that may threaten the resilience of marine ecosystems.
Some of the most pristine marine ecosystems remaining on earth are in remote areas far from human population centers, both within national jurisdiction or beyond, on the high seas* . Unfortunately even these areas are under pressure from the effects of human activities. Recognizing this, many countries have begun to manage activities in remote maritime areas as well as seeking to conserve areas of high ecological value through the establishment of marine protected areas. In recent years some very large offshore protected areas have been established within national EEZs and in addition some are now also being established on the high seas, through the efforts of several international organizations. Without effective enforcement however, these remote managed areas will remain no more than paper management plans and paper parks.
Surveillance and enforcement is more challenging in large, remote areas than for near-shore MPAs as they are often far from populated land, and therefore difficult to reach with traditional manned patrols, radar or other short-range monitoring tools. Advanced technologies have been used successfully for surveillance of large areas, and there is great potential for expansion; however an associated response by law enforcement personnel is still essential to confirm and prosecute violations. Combining surveillance technologies into a single enforcement package has considerable cost-saving potential and is emphasized throughout this report. Additionally, the obvious and targeted presence of law enforcement reduces attempted infractions since there is a perceived significant risk of being caught.
This document reviews and evaluates a range of existing technological options for the surveillance of remote marine managed areas. Some of these technologies are currently in use by fisheries management agencies; some are currently the purview of groups like the military or security agencies; and others have hitherto been unexplored for such purposes. As commercial fishing (regulated or otherwise) is the single greatest pressure to most remote marine ecosystems, followed by vessel-based pollution, we pay particular attention to technologies for the monitoring of such activities. The paper initially discusses surveillance technologies for cooperative vessels; that is, those that are participating in a managed activity where monitoring systems are obligatory. The majority of the paper however describes the range of sensors and platforms that can be applied to the more challenging task of monitoring non-cooperative vessels.
Surveillance technologies alone are insufficient to ensure compliance, but they are a necessary component. This first paper in the series does not look at questions of integrating surveillance technologies into an enforcement regime; neither does it consider issues improving compliance. These are clearly key issues, and we anticipate giving these issues the space they deserve in subsequent publications.
We provide evidence for temporal displacement of illegal discharges of oil from shipping, a major source of ocean pollution, in response to a monitoring technology that features variation in the probability of conviction by time of day. During the nighttime, evidence collected by Coast Guard aircraft using radar becomes contestable in court because the nature of an identified spot cannot be verified visually by an observer on board of the aircraft. Seasonal variation in time of sunset is used to distinguish evasive behavior from daily routines on board. Using data from surveillance flights above the Dutch part of the North Sea during 1992–2011, we provide evidence for a sudden increase in illegal discharges after sunset across the year. Our results show that even a tiny chance of getting caught and a mild punishment can have a major impact on behavior.