Earlier this week The Black Fish presented a groundbreaking new report on fishing crime at the UN Crime Congress in Doha, Qatar. Bringing together case studies from around the world, the publication makes the case that illegal fishing constitutes a form of organized crime and should be officially recognised and dealth with as such. With the move The Black Fish is steering away from its traditional conservation agenda, putting stronger focus on the criminal aspects of illegal fishing.
“The fact is that the global conservation effort is struggling. Most of the oceans remain underprotected and illegal overfishing is a bigger problem than ever before. As conservationists we need to rethink our approach and find ways to get ahead of the game” said Wietse van der Werf, founder of The Black Fish and co-author of the report.
While The Black Fish will continue to work for the protection of endangered species, the focus will increasingly be on mobilising civil society to tackle organized crime and corruption in the fishing industry. Van der Werf: “Half the fish sold in Europe is illegal and 800 kilos of illegal fish is taken from our oceans ever second. The situation is extremely dire and it is about time we treated illegal fishing for what it really is: crime.”
Samantha Hooks, coordinator of The Black Fish’s Citizen Inspector Network: “Criminal organisations currently have free reign and the problems surrounding fisheries crime are not dealt with head-on. It is our hope that with more attention given to the organised crime elements in the seafood sector and the corruption which drives it, we can involve more of the international enforcement and anti-corruption agencies to assist in bringing the dark corners of this industry to justice”.
Over the coming months The Black Fish is busy training new Citizen Inspectors, which are to aid struggling enforcement officials in countries where they are unable to keep up with the scale of illegal fishing. Assisting with monitoring and evidence collection, The Black Fish helps to direct such enforcers more efficiently, making the best possible use of limited resources. Interested to be involved? See how you can become a Citizen Inspector yourself!