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Fishy networks: Uncovering the companies and individuals behind illegal fishing globally

October 26th, 2022

Africa concentrates 48.9% of identified industrial and semi-industrial vessels involved in illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, 40% in West Africa alone which has become a global epicentre for these activities, according to a new report from the Financial Transparency Coalition and partners – a group of 11 NGOs from across the world.

The report entitled “Fishy networks: uncovering the companies and individuals behind illegal fishing globally”, the most extensive analysis of IUU fishing cases to date, also warns that developing countries lose billions of dollars in illicit money flows directly linked to this practice every year – up to $11.49bn for Africa, and $2bn for Argentina and $4bn for Indonesia. The study also reveals that the top 10 companies involved in IUU fishing concentrate nearly one-quarter of all reported vessels: eight from China, one from Colombia and another from Spain which received millions of dollars in EU and other subsidies.

IUU fishing is a key contributor to more than 90% of global fisheries stocks being fully exploited, overexploited or depleted, according to the UN, impacting regions most affected by climate change. This practice also accounts for one-fifth of the global fisheries catches, worth up to $23.5bn annually, the third most lucrative natural resource crime after timber and mining.

The report warns that almost no countries require information about owners when registering vessels or requesting fishing licenses, meaning that those ultimately responsible for these activities are not detected and punished, resulting in fines often being applied to the vessel captains and crew.

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