In Focus

Consultation on Covid-19 Implications for Fisheries Crime Law Enforcement

29 June 2020

On the 29 June 2020 the Blue Justice Initiative in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) organized a consultation on COVID-19 implications for Fisheries Crime Law Enforcement.

The consultation had participation of experts from Colombia, Senegal, Norway, Morocco, Kenya and organizations such as UNODC, UNDP, Indonesian Ocean Justice Initiative (IOJI) and CEMLAWS (Ghana).

Illustration photo from a fishmarket during social distancing. (CC/Flickr/WorldFish)

Based on the discussions some general observations was made and it is obvious that the COVID-19 crisis is challenging. This applies particularly for vulnerable coastal communities dependent on artisanal fishing have suffered increased economic dislocation, rising levels of poverty and associated food insecurity as they are not able to legally go to sea or sell their products. In light of limited alternative livelihood options this renders them susceptible to engaging in illegal activities to generate income.

The decline in national fishing activities due to lockdown has created opportunity for illegal fishing by foreign registered vessels in national waters and related, increased illegal fishing in national waters by perpetrators from neighbouring countries is noticeable in several regions.

On the basis of the presentations and the general discussion, the participants of the meeting concluded that in crises, such as the global Covid-19 pandemic:

  1. Fisheries law enforcement is more challenging as governments’ focus on response to the crisis.
  2. Transnational criminal networks exploit enforcement weakness to conduct crime in the sector and to recruit vulnerable coastal communities to engage in illicit activities along the supply chain with adverse gendered implications
  3. The importance of a coordinated governance response to protect the fisheries sector against criminal exploitation is emphasised.
  4. Our dependence on the ocean and marine resources highlights the need to build a Blue Economy that is resilient to crises including via more effective use of digital tools.

Blue Justice Initiative’s liaison at the Norwegian Police

June 2020

As of July 2020, the Secretariat of the Blue Justice Initiative will have a fisheries liaison at the Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime (Økokrim). Eve de Coning will join the analysis unit of Økokrim, where she will assist Økokrim and Norwegian police units with fisheries crime-related issues, including those that pertain to the Blue Justice Initiative. De Coning was until recently the fisheries liaison to Interpol National Central Bureau (NCB Oslo) at the Norwegian National Crime Investigation Services (Kripos). Her transfer to Økokrim was announced by the Minister of Fisheries and Seafood Odd-Emil Ingebrigtsen and the Director of Økokrim, senior public prosecutor Pål Lønseth, in June 2020.

Blue Justice Initiative liaison Norwegian Police
From left to right, senior adviser Eve de Coning, specialist director Gunnar Stølsvik, Minister of Fisheries and Seafood Odd-Emil Ingebrigtsen and the Director of Økokrim, Pål Lønseth.

North Atlantic Fisheries Intelligence Group (NA-FIG) Inter-agency Workshop and Table Top Exercise at North Atlantic House, Copenhagen

29-30 October 2019

Supported by the Nordic Council of Ministers

On 29-30 October 2019, North Atlantic House, Copenhagen, the North Atlantic Fisheries Intelligence Group (NA-FIG) arranged a workshop and table top exercise (TTX) on fisheries crime with the financial support of the Nordic Council of Ministers.

North Atlantic House Copenhagen
The North Atlantic House is located in Copenhagen (Photo: Flickr/cc/Colin)

The workshop and TTX had 45 participants from nine countries (Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, Iceland, Greenland, United Kingdom, Canada, Faroe Islands and Norway) around the North Atlantic Ocean representing agencies such as Customs, Fisheries, Tax, Food Safety, the Coast Guard, Maritime authoriesi and the Police. During the exercise the participants were required to solve problems, and identify illegalities and dilemmas throughout the whole fisheries value chain from the point at which the fish were harvested through to their consumption by the general public.

The Nordic Council of Ministers has, since 2017, provided financial support to the NA-FIG in order to stimulate further cooperation between Nordic countries with regards to analyzing and investigating crimes throughout the fisheries value chain via the project titled “Fisheries crime in a Nordic perspective.” In 2018 the Nordic Council of Ministers also supported the publication of a report on flags of convenience and secrecy and the impact this has on fisheries law enforcement.

The purpose of the workshop and TTX was to consider problems and scenarios from the perspective of the various different agencies that have a stake in combating transnational organized crime in the fishing industry. By identifying and considering the differing viewpoints of the various agencies and focusing on how to raise the profile of fisheries crime, the aim was to find ways to enhance cooperation between relevant the agencies both nationally and internationally.

Towards the goal of preventing and combating fisheries crime, the workshop and TTX examined the various agencies’ areas of responsibility, their powers and their methods of enforcement.

The aim was to highlight cross-agency responsibilities and the need for information sharing and inter-agency cooperation. Participants should gain knowledge and achieve a broader perspective of the range of issues that exist along the fisheries value chain with the aim of enhancing their ability to detect, prevent and combat fisheries crime in the context of:

  • Limitations imposed by agency responsibilities and legislative frameworks;
  • The impact of a lack of co-operation within states and across national boundaries;
  • Gaps in the legislation; and
  • Emerging and unidentified risks.

The feedback on the workshop and TTX was good, both on layout and on content. The inter-agency and cross border approach provided the participations a broader perspective, that is, a more “holistic approach”, and highlighted the need for cooperation between authorities at national and international level.

NA-FIG will follow up recommendations regarding closer inter agency – and international cooperation and aims to set up further similar workshops and tabletop exercises.

Scotland supports the Copenhagen Declaration

25 November 2019

On the 25 November 2019 the Scottish Fisheries Minister, Fergus Ewing, gave his formal support to the Copenhagen Declaration in Oslo.

The Scottish fisheries Minister Fergus Ewing and Norwegian Minister for Fisheries and Seafood Harald T. Nesvik shaking hands after the signing ceremony.

Fisheries Crime lunch during Our Ocean 2019

23-24 October 2019

Norway was the host of Our Ocean 2019 on 23-24 October this year. During this event the Norwegian Minister for Fisheries and Seafood Harald T. Nesvik invited ministers from a number of countries to a luncheon to discuss transnational organized crime in the global fishing industry.

During Our Ocean 2019 Nauru, South Africa, Fiji, Sao Tome and Principe, Myanmar and Mexico gave their formal support to the Copenhagen Declaration.

Minister Aliklik from Nauru and Norwegian Minister Nesvik during the signing of the Declaration.
Fijian minister Koroilavesau presents a traditional cava bowl from the Pacific to the Norwegian minister.

Workshop on fisheries crime in the Micronesian Region

22-23 August 2019

On 22 and 23 August the Blue Justice Secretariat and North Atlantic Fisheries Intelligence Group attended a workshop in Palau on how to address crime linked to the fisheries sector in the Micronesian Region.

The workshop was attended by representatives from the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands and Palau, and offered an interesting glimpse into a highly vulnerable sector and the particular challenges in the region.

The Micronesian region has some of the largest Ocean Nations in the world – picture from Palau
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) facilitated the workshop, which was supported by the Blue Justice Secretariat at the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries; the North Atlantic Fisheries Intelligence group (NA-FIG); and the Office of the Attorney-General of Palau. This workshop was conducted under the framework of the FishNET project and was implemented by the UNODC Global Programme for Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime with funding from the Norwegian Government through the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD).

Chile supports the Copenhagen Declaration

21 August 2019

During a bilateral meeting between the Chilean Deputy Minister Román Zelaya and Norwegian Minister Nesvik on 21 August 2019 Chile indicated its formal support of the Copenhagen Declaration.

Minister Zelaya and Minister Nesvik in a good mood after the signing of the Declaration.

What is Fisheries Crime?

PescaDOLUS is an independent international fisheries crime research network that engages in the generation of knowledge and awareness around the adverse impacts of organised fisheries crime and measures to address the problem. It has produced an educational video on fisheries crime.

PescaDOLUS is a partner in the Blue Justice Initiative

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