The significance of the ocean and the resources that lie beneath it is well represented in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Specifically, Goal 14 of the SDGs highlights the need to conserve the ocean, seas and marine resources and, as such, is a significant contributor to the achievement of other SDGs. Goals 1 and 2 are aimed at bringing an end to poverty and hunger of which a plentiful supply of fish is an important means to their realisation. Fisheriesalso make a substantial contribution to the revenue of many developing countries, thereby assisting the attainment of Goal 8 which seeks to ensure sustainable economic growth. However, the pervasiveness of unsustainable practices that are harmful to the marine environment, such as pollution, overfishing and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, threatens the ability of developing countries especially those in the Gulf of Guinea to maximise the use of their ocean resources. The paper focuses on the Gulf of Guinea due to the significance of fisheries resources to littoral communities and the severity of IUU fishing across the region. The paper also emphasises the threat to the fulfilment of some SDGs by 2030. It does so by arguing that unabated IUU fishing is due to respective government’s lack of awareness of their maritime domain, reflected in the dearth of human resource and inadequate financial investment to solve the problems of maritime security, and the lack of cooperation between countries in the region thus rendering existing surveillance operations ineffective.
Fisheries Crime and IUU Fishing
Over the last 35 years, at both European and Italian level, great efforts have been made to increase the number of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), as they are considered an effective tool for protecting oceans and biodiversity. In recent years, MPAs have become more than simply a tool to improve marine conservation. In fact, their management agencies are actively involved in the sustainable development of nearby communities through the promotion of recreational activities (boating, snorkelling, diving). Even if the recreational uses of the marine environment are generally considered benign, they can potentially be highly detrimental for species and their habitats. As a result, these activities should be controlled through the spatial zoning and the regulations of the MPAs. Thus, the achievement of the conservation goals of the MPAs depends primarily on compliance with the regulations of recreational uses inside their boundaries. The objective of this study was to estimate boating usage and the level of compliance inside the Capo Gallo and Isola delle Femmine (Italy) MPA. The spatial and temporal trend of boating and the behaviours of boaters were measured through direct observation over a period of two summer months. The study highlighted a weakness in the effectiveness of this MPA, linked to a social component and compliance with the regulation. Solutions for effective management plans are outlined thanks to an understanding of the limitations and potential of existing MPA policies.
Indo-Pacific coral reefs face an unprecedented level of anthropogenic pressure. Cyanide fishing is a highly destructive method employed to capture live fish from Indo-Pacific coral reefs and supply the live fish food trade in Asia and the global marine aquarium trade. To allow the development and implementation of an effective and reliable testing platform to screen live reef fish for cyanide poisoning, without their sacrifice, and thus contribute to the ban of this practice from Indo-Pacific coral reefs, the following research topics must be urgently addressed: 1) selection of a suitable model species; 2) standardization of experimental methodologies; 3) exclude the possibility that the target compound(s) being monitored to detect live reef fish illegally collected using cyanide originate from other sources than cyanide poisoning; 4) clarification of the excretion physiology and cyanide pharmacokinetics in marine fish; and 5) evaluate interspecific differences in excretion physiology and cyanide pharmacokinetics in marine fish.
Natural resource rules exist to control resources and the people that interact with them. These rules often fail because people do not comply with them. Decisions to comply with natural resource rules often are based on attitudes about legitimacy of rules and the perceived risks of breaking rules. Trust in agencies promulgating rules in part may determine perceptions of legitimacy of the rule, and in turn depends on individuals’ trust in different agency actors. The purpose of this research is to explore the relationship between fishing rule noncompliance and trust in scientists, a key group within management agencies. We interviewed 41 individuals in one rural fishing community in the Brazilian Pantanal from April to August, 2016, to assess (1) noncompliance rates, (2) noncompliance-related attitudes, and (3) the relationship between trust in scientists and noncompliance decisions in the region. We found that among study participants, noncompliance was common and overt. Trust in scientists performing research in the region was the best predictor of noncompliance rate with a fishing rule (nonparametric rank correlation ρ = -0.717; Probit model pseudo-R2 = 0.241). Baseline data from this research may help inform future interventions to minimize IUU fishing and protect the Pantanal fishery. Although our results are specific to one community in the Pantanal, trust in scientists is potentially an important factor for compliance decisions in similar situations around the world. These results build not only on compliance theory but also speak to the important role that many scientists play in rural areas where they conduct their research.
The emergence of conservation criminology over the past decade provides a unique insight into patterns of wildlife crime. Wildlife crime has a dramatic impact on many vulnerable species and represents a significant challenge to the management of protected areas around the world. This paper contributes to the field of conservation criminology by examining the travel patterns of fishing poachers in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in Australia. The results demonstrate that distance is a key feature of offender target selection, reflecting the established environmental criminology concept of distance decay. The analysis also reveals a significant relationship between individual no-take zones and regional population areas. The applicability of a nodal-oriented approach to wildlife crime prevention is discussed.
Effective compliance is a key element to the successful management of marine protected areas (MPAs), and requires a suite of tools to generate awareness of MPA rules, and monitor and regulate their use. Using vessel monitoring systems and creating geo-fences around MPA boundaries is an innovative approach to improve such awareness to vessel masters and commercial fishing licence holders with these systems on-board. In 2014, Parks Australia in partnership with the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) introduced a purpose-built alert service for commercial fishing licence holders operating in Australian Commonwealth fisheries managed by AFMA that overlap with MPAs (Australian marine parks). The alert service is customised for each individual fishing vessel to notify masters and licence holders when they enter Australian marine parks where their particular fishing method is prohibited. Since the introduction of the alert service in 25 marine parks, fishers have received 3307 alerts, across eight fisheries. It is estimated that 23 of these alerts averted compliance incidents, in turn protecting marine park values and saving AUD$4.7 million in litigation costs. Of significance, there has been no recorded incidence of noncompliance by Australian commercial fishing licence holders and their vessel master's with access to the alert service since its introduction. The information presented here is the first empirical analysis of the effectiveness of geo-fencing to minimise noncompliance in MPAs. The alert service has the potential to become a front-line tool for supporting compliance by commercial fishing licence holders and their master's in Australian marine parks and other large-scale MPAs and MPA networks, globally.
This article traces the emergence of the ‘fisheries crime’ concept from its national Nordic roots through its introduction to, and subsequent acceptance within, the international political arena. The centrality of the associated law enforcement approach is underscored and key international processes aimed at addressing transnational organised crime in the international fishing sector are discussed. The importance of cooperation both domestically, amongst relevant government agencies, and across borders, at a region and global level, in this regard is highlighted
Marine fisheries plays an important role in ensuring food security and providing livelihoods in South Africa, as in many other developing coastal States. Transnational fisheries crime seriously undermines these goals. Drawing on empirical research this contribution highlights the complexity of law enforcement at the interface between low-level poaching and organised crime in the small-scale fisheries sector with reference to a South African case study. Specifically, this article examines the relationship between a fisheries-crime law enforcement approach and the envisaged management approach of the South African Small-Scale Fisheries Policy.
This article examines the various requirements for the exercise by a State of its enforcement jurisdiction to investigate instances of fisheries crime and its adjudicative jurisdiction to try fisheries crime cases. In the process, the jurisdictional bases available are identified, the extent of the powers available are determined and concrete examples provided. It concludes that the international law rules governing State jurisdiction over fisheries crime at sea do not place any insurmountable obstacle to the criminalisation, investigation and adjudication of acts of transnational organised fisheries crime. What is needed is a more positive attitude towards the complexities of State ocean jurisdiction and the existing scope of the States’ duties towards the marine environment, and the marine living resources more specifically.
Acoustic tagging is typically used to gather data on the spatial ecology of diverse marine taxa, informing questions about spatio-temporal attributes such as residency and home range, but detection data may also reveal unanticipated insights. Many species demonstrate predictable site fidelity, and so a sudden cessation of detections for multiple individuals may be evidence of an atypical event. During 2013 and 2014, we acoustically tagged 47 grey reef sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) and 48 silvertip sharks (Carcharhinus albimarginatus) near reefs in the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) Marine Protected Area (MPA). From March 2013 to November 2014 inclusive, tags were ‘lost’, i.e. permanently ceased to be detected within the monitoring area, at an average rate of 2.6 ± 1.0 tags per month. Between 1 and 10 December 2014, detection data suggest the near-simultaneous loss of 15 of the remaining 43 active tagged sharks, a monthly loss rate over five times higher than during the previous 21 months. Between 4 and 14 December of 2014, the BIOT patrol vessel encountered 17 vessels engaged in suspected illegal fishing in the northern BIOT MPA; such sightings averaged one per month during the previous 8 months. Two of these vessels were arrested with a total of 359 sharks on board, of which grey reef and silvertip sharks constituted 47% by number. The unusual and coincident peaks in tag loss and vessel sightings, and the catch composition of the arrested vessels, suggest illegal fishing as a plausible explanation for the unusual pattern in our detection data. A Cox proportional hazards model found that the presence of fishing vessels increased the risk of tag loss by a factor of 6.0 (95% CI 2.6–14.0, p < 0.001). Based on the number of vessels sighted and the average number of sharks on vessels arrested in BIOT during 2014, we conservatively estimate that over 2000 sharks may have been removed during the suspected fishing event. Based on average catch compositions, over 1000 would have been grey reef and silvertip sharks. Assuming a closed population mark-recapture model, over one-third of the locally resident reef sharks may have been removed from the monitoring area. The data suggest that even sporadic fishing events may have a marked impact on local reef shark populations, but also demonstrate the potential of electronic tagging a tool for detecting illegal or otherwise unreported fishing activity.