It’s all happening. With close to 100 trained Citizen Inspectors, increasing amounts of evidence of illegal fishing and a growing community of volunteers across Europe, you are making a difference for the protection of our oceans. You have crowdfunded more donations, attended more events and raised more awareness than ever before. And it is having an impact.
With enforcement authorities increasingly taking note and prosecutions pending, your actions are taking on the powerful companies involved in illegally overfishing our seas. Here is what you in The Black Fish community have achieved for the protection of ocean life this year.
Together we are building a growing ocean movement
There is strength in numbers. With our volunteer communities growing across Germany, UK, Spain and The Netherlands, we saw our community substantially expand this year. More events were attended than ever before and with more structural volunteer training now in place, you are helping us grow our movement more effectively so together we can make a bigger splash.
You raised over €200,000 this year to fight illegal fishing
2015 was without a doubt the most successful year for The Black Fish, including financially. You raised over €200,000 during online appeals, sporting challenging and community events, as well as contributed in-kind donations with an estimated value of over €1,2 million. We were also able to launch the #OceanCrowd; the first dedicated ocean crowdfunding platform, already with great results for our Citizen Inspectors that use it to crowdfund the necessary contributions to make our investigations possible. Thank you for donating!
We are training a network of civilian fishing inspectors
During two international weekend long training sessions we were able to train up Citizen Inspectors, which are currently out in the field collecting evidence of illegal fishing practices. With close to 100 people now trained up and the ambition for an estimated 120 additional people to be qualified across several countries in 2016, The Black Fish is will soon run the world’s largest fisheries monitoring network. Thanks to your support we are scaling up crucial monitoring capacity over fishing grounds, in ports and markets.
You are helping us expose crime
Our civil enforcement approach rests on the ability to collect evidence in order to initiate unique prosecutions and affect policy changes. On both levels we are seeing promising progress and especially due to growing support we were able to take on two major challenges this year. In April we took our case, for illegal fishing to be officially recognised as a type of organised crime, to the United Nations. Our ground-breaking report and subsequent policy discussions are changing the perceptions on what constitutes wildlife crime and how illegal fishing should be dealt with accordingly.
In July our Citizen Inspectors uncovered a major loophole in EU law which is enabling large scale illegal driftnets to return to European seas. Your support has been crucial to get this issue investigated and with your continued backing we can see to it being resolved.
Our efforts are yielding concrete results on the ground
Less talk more action. With ‘boots on the ground’ we are able to get concrete results for conservation. Early on in the year our inspectors working in Italy cooperated with the Italian Coastguard on a major bust to confiscate illegal catches of juvenile anchovy. Further on in the year we were able to get back to sea to remove illegal Fish Aggregating Devices from killing endangered wildlife in the South Tyrrhenian Sea. Once again your contributions are translating into tangible results in the field.
Authorities are taking note and getting involved
Essentially we are doing a job that governments should be doing but are failing to. We will continue to do whatever is necessary in our fight for the preservation of the world’s oceans but an interesting development is that official authorities are increasingly taking note. Our approach is realising increased enforcement capacity at relatively low cost and achieving more results than some official bodies are able to manage. This year saw a broadening of our cooperation with the Italian Coastguard and we hope to announce new ground-breaking authority partnerships in the new year.
We will soon be backed up by air and sea services
While at The Black Fish we train and deploy Citizen Inspectors in fishing ports and markets, in the new year we will be backed up by air and sea support from the Conservation Services. Working as part of this new strategic conservation partnership, we will soon be able to take on illegal fishing from land, air and sea, as well as through innovative tracking technology and forensic science.
Your involvement makes it all possible
We are a community of ordinary people wishing to see concrete change for our oceans and we can have an impact thanks to your involvement. Your support, feedback, volunteering and spreading the word is what makes our world spin. Thank you. We are lucky to have you onboard our team and look forward to make ambitious things happen together in 2016.