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FAO Supports Latin America and Caribbean in Eradicating Illegal Fishing

Sustainability Politics

The FAO has unveiled a new technical cooperation project that will support eleven countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to stop illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

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"Illegal fishing not only threatens food security and sustainability and conservation of fisheries resources, but also the economic well-being of two million people who depend on fishing as their livelihood," said Tito Diaz, Subregional Coordinator FAO Mesoamerica.

FAO presented the project to fisheries authorities from eleven countries in the region for a high-level meeting to be held in Panama.

The project will allow Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru and the Dominican Republic to coordinated towards the elimination of illegal steps, strengthening its control mechanisms and institutions in the sector.

It will also strengthen monitoring procedures, monitoring and control of fishing, enabling better contribute to the sustainable management of fisheries resources.

Zuleika Pinzón, Administrator of the Authority of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources of Panama said that with the support of FAO countries in the region will advance to achieve the goals set out in the Sustainable Development Goals, which states that by 2020 should regulate fisheries exploitation and to stop illegal fishing and destructive fishing practices.

"Fighting against illegal fishing permits conserve marine ecosystems through good governance and ensure that future generations can count on fisheries products for their food security," said Diaz.

In addition, FAO will assist countries to implement the Agreement on Measures of Port State , the first binding international treaty that seeks to end illegal fishing, which has already been ratified by five countries in the region and entered into force this year.

The impact of illegal fishing

According to FAO, Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing poses the greatest threat to the sustainability of fisheries resources in the short, medium and long term.

Although there are currently no regional data on the impact of illegal fishing, but globally it is estimated that IUU fishing subtracts 26 million tons per year, valued at approximately 23 billion dollars, equivalent to about 15% of the world production record.

While the value of world exports of fish amounted to 148 billion USD (2014), it is believed that the value of IUU fishing reaches an equivalent of between 7% and 16% of total exports.

In addition to the economic consequences of illegal fishing, it also has social effects, since by reducing the volume of biomass on managed fisheries are threatening the livelihoods of fishermen and other stakeholders in the fisheries sector, aggravating the poverty. According to FAO, in Latin America and the Caribbean, more than 2 million people depend directly on fishing for their livelihood.

In addition, illegal fishing increases food insecurity because fish represents 17% of the total intake of animal protein globally, and IUU fishing contributes to the eventual overexploitation of various marine species that are part of the diet of millions of people.

IUU fishing does not allow a reliable assessment of fish stocks, a key aspect when you consider that about 31.4% of fish stocks are overfished and 58.1% are fully exploited.

Illegal fishing at small and large scale in Latin America

According to FAO, mostly in Latin America and in the exclusive economic zones of the countries that comprise it, illegal fishing is combated with direct supervision of the armed forces and fishing authorities.

Introducing the new project, Alejandro Flores, Officer Fisheries and Aquaculture of the FAO, he said that illegal fishing has two components: one is high-volume and practiced in international waters with vessels of great autonomy and storage capacity, not it is declared or deliberately recorded. The other is furtive and takes place in territorial waters of the countries, reaching very important but currently unknown volumes.

Poaching is a growing phenomenon that has an important role in the sustainability of fisheries resources at the local and national impact. It is estimated that poaching can overcome, in some countries, up to 100% of legally permissible catch volume for a fishery.

"Both forms of illegal fishing have very negative effects because it does not allow generate strong management measures of fishery resources. This is food that does not reach the coastal communities, being caught offshore illegally, which directly impacts food security, "said Flores.

According to the FAO expert, poaching practices, besides not part of the formal economy, preventing generate a clear picture of the state of exploitation of fisheries resources.

How to combat illegal fishing?

The Agreement on Measures of Port State seeks to combat illegal fishing both through practical measures inspection to ensure the legal origin of fish products.

Under the agreement, a foreign vessel requesting use of a port in a country that has signed the agreement should undergo a review of its cargo of fishery products, to verify that the zones, fishing gear, catch volumes and species have It has been authorized.

Similarly, there is an obligation to inform you if you have or have made product transshipment at sea, in addition to documentation on the pavilion and boat registration in compliance with international agreements. If these requirements are not met the country has the right to deny the use of the port, alerting authorities and regional fisheries management organizations.

In Latin America there are five countries that have ratified its adoption and therefore these measures apply, while another large group of countries in the region are in the process of ratification. Globally the agreement already has the support of more than 30 countries and the European Union on behalf of its 28 member states.