Fisheries in Guinea Bissau contribute greatly to the economy and food security of its people. Yet, as the ability of the country to monitor its fisheries is at most weak, and confronted with a heavy foreign fleet presence, the impact of industrial foreign fleets on fisheries catches is unaccounted for in the region. However, their footprint in terms of catch and value on the small-scale sector is heavily felt, through declining availability of fish. Fisheries in Guinea Bissau are operated by both legal (small-scale and industrial), and illegal (foreign unauthorized) fleets, whose catches are barely recorded. In this paper, we assess catches by both the legal and illegal sector, and the economic loss generated by illegal fisheries in the country, then attempt to evaluate the effectiveness of Monitoring Control and Surveillance (MCS) of Guinea Bissau's fisheries. Two main sectors were identified through official reports and a literature review, the large-scale (industrial) sector, which between 2011 and 2017 included exclusively catches by foreign owned and flagged vessels, and catches by the small-scale sector, which remain largely unmonitored in official statistics. We use the available data on the number of legal and illegal vessels and/or fishers, and their respective catch per unit of effort to estimate catches, and we analyze monitoring outcomes against the registered industrial and artisanal fleets. We find that of the legal industrial vessels, 20% were linked to criminal activities in the past 7 years. These activities range widely from using an illegal mesh size, to fishing in a prohibited area, to labor abuse. Overall, total small-scale and industrial catches were estimated at 370,000 t/year in 2017, of which less than 2% is ever reported to the FAO. Small-scale catches represented 8% of the total catch, and this contribution was found to be declining. Industrial fisheries generate over $458 million US, or which $75 million US is taken illegally, falling under the category trans-national fisheries crimes. The slight negative relationship between the number of monitoring days at sea illegal catches suggests increasing MCS efforts may play an important role in reducing illegal fishing in the country.
Fisheries Crime and IUU Fishing
Here, we report trading of endangered shark species in a world hotspot for elasmobranch conservation in Brazil. Data on shark fisheries are scarce in Brazil, although the northern and northeastern regions have the highest indices of shark bycatch. Harvest is made primarily with processed carcasses lacking head and fins, which hampers reliable species identification and law enforcement on illegal catches. We used partial sequences of two mitochondrial genes (COI and/or NADH2) to identify 17 shark species from 427 samples being harvested and marketed on the northern coast of Brazil. Nine species (53%) are listed under some extinction threat category according to Brazilian law and international authorities (IUCN – International Union for Conservation of Nature; CITES – Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). The number increases to 13 (76%) if we also consider the Near Threatened category. Hammerhead sharks are under threat worldwide, and composed 18.7% of samples, with Sphyrna mokarran being the fourth most common species among samples. As illegal trade of threatened shark species is a worldwide conservation problem, molecular identification of processed meat or specimens lacking diagnostic body parts is a highly effective tool for species identification and law enforcement.
Minimizing illegal fishing is of paramount importance for fisheries sustainability. The present study focused on the fisheries infringements through the analysis of the official records in one of the largest Mediterranean lagoons, Mesolonghi-Etolikon, and the analysis of questionnaires answered by local fishermen to determine the true effectiveness of the control efforts. This double analysis represents a valuable case study for determining illegal fisheries practices, status of control, and efficacy of regulations. Results exhibited that: (a) the high contribution of the recorded infringements was due to absence of fishermen/vessel licenses, (b) fines are not proportionate with the type of illegal activity, and (c) the number of the recorded infringements represented a very small percentage of the estimated number of fishing days conducted by both professional fishermen and people not having fishing/vessel license. Findings indicated a situation with great presence of illegality that might completely weak any possibility for assessing the status of fisheries and resources and seriously hamper any definition of thresholds useful for sustainable management. Solutions are discussed especially in the light of revision of regulations and of transparency in the decision-making process.
Illegal harvest is recognized as a widespread problem in natural resource management. The use of multiple methods for quantifying illegal harvest has been widely recommended yet infrequently applied. We used a mixed-method approach to evaluate the extent, character, and motivations of illegal gillnet fishing in Lake Hovsgol National Park, Mongolia and its impact on the lake’s fish populations, especially that of the endangered endemic Hovsgol grayling (Thymallus nigrescens). Surveys for derelict fishing gear indicate that gillnet fishing is widespread and increasing and that fishers generally use 3–4 cm mesh gillnet. Interviews with resident herders and park rangers suggest that many residents fish for subsistence during the spring grayling spawning migration and that some residents fish commercially year-round. Interviewed herders and rangers generally agree that fish population sizes are decreasing but are divided on the causes and solutions. Biological monitoring indicates that the gillnet mesh sizes used by fishers efficiently target Hovsgol grayling. Of the five species sampled in the monitoring program, only burbot (Lota lota) showed a significant decrease in population abundance from 2009–2013. However, grayling, burbot, and roach (Rutilus rutilus) all showed significant declines in average body size, suggesting a negative fishing impact. Data-poor stock assessment methods suggest that the fishing effort equivalent to each resident family fishing 50-m of gillnet 11–15 nights per year would be sufficient to overexploit the grayling population. Results from the derelict fishing gear survey and interviews suggest that this level of effort is not implausible. Overall, we demonstrate the ability for a mixed-method approach to effectively describe an illegal fishery and suggest that these methods be used to assess illegal fishing and its impacts in other protected areas.