Illegal fishing: The millionaire business that puts hundreds of human lives at risk

In addition to ending entire populations of fish, illegal fishing facilitates human trafficking and puts the health of fish consumers at risk

Illegal fishing: The millionaire business that puts hundreds of human lives at risk

Data released by a report of the UN Fund for Food and Agriculture (FAO), indicates that each year illegally extracted at least 26 million tons of fish to be marketed. This not only has a negative impact on the environment, it also leaves millions in losses for the fishing community, affects the economy of dozens of countries globally and facilitates human trafficking.

Leer en español: Pesca ilegal: El negocio millonario que pone en riesgo cientos de vidas humanas

According to FAO calculations, these 26 million illicit tons represent 20% of annual production and generate a total of 23 billion dollars that benefit only unregulated marketers. In addition to the high flight of money for local economies, the illegal extraction is made above the permitted levels, which generates a reduction in the availability of the product in the long term and affects the value of it in the market.

As explained in an article on the official website of the UN by Alicia Mosterio, coordinator of the global registration program in the fisheries and aquaculture department of FAO, "Unregulated and illegal fishing has many negative consequences and at all levels. The main one is at the level of the biology of the species that are exploited, since it does not repair the sustainability norms to maintain that species for future generations at an adequate level, extracting greater quantities than those that are allowed ".

Mosteiro also adds that due to the evasion of regulations, illegal marketers can not guarantee the good condition of the product; when it reaches the consumer it can be contaminated and its price can be much higher due to the alterations it suffers in the value chain.

A bridge to human trafficking

Although many nations in the global sphere are affected by illegal fishing, the most vulnerable areas are islands and developing countries, which have complete populations that depend directly on this activity.

When the permitted levels of fish extraction are exceeded, the availability of the product for the consumption of the premises is reduced, the future productions that could be legally sold are affected and an economic need is generated in the population that consequently is translated in more people working in a forced way or under extreme conditions.

This scenario was ratified by Javier Villanueva, fisheries expert for FAO of Latin America and the Caribbean, who indicated for France24 that the effects of illegal fishing have an impact on coastal communities in different ways: from the lack of food for artisanal fishermen, to promote "situations of child labor, overcrowding in boats, trafficking in persons and other related illicit activities".

The solution is in cooperation

Since 2016, FAO has begun to implement measures to combat illegal fishing with the help of the international community. Currently, 54 countries plus the European Union are part of an agreement that aims to eradicate harmful commercialization for ecosystems and the economy of coastal regions.

Among the practices that are carried out is the joint cooperation with port authorities, customs, maritime, immigration and local police. This allows illegal extraction to be persecuted throughout its distribution chain and not only at the moment of being caught in the act.

In Latin America, Peru, Panama, Costa Rica, and Chile are part of the Network of Exchange of information and experiences among Latin American countries to Prevent, Discourage and Eliminate Illegal Fishing.

So far, the FAO does not have independent figures that can provide accurate statistics on illegal fishing in each nation. It is also believed that the millionaire cost of illegal fishing could be much higher than estimated, since the monitoring of ships is largely done through the use of remote systems and satellites, and not individually and in person.

LatinAmerican Post | Krishna Jaramillo

Translated from "Pesca ilegal: El negocio millonario que pone en riesgo cientos de vidas humanas"

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