High time for IOC’s tough stance on fisheries pirates

Nature Seychelles backs stance on IUU fishing

Nature Seychelles has given its support a recent move by the Indian Ocean Commission (COI) to tackle the problem of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Ministers from the five Indian Ocean island COI member states met in Seychelles last week, where they signed a joint declaration agreeing to launch a regional fisheries surveillance and enforcement system, earning the plaudits of the local environmental NGO community.
And the agreement by the ministers representing Seychelles, Mauritius, Madagascar, Comoros and Reunion has been given added financial clout thanks to the European Commission, which has pledged €7 million to assist in fisheries surveillance and control in the region.
“At a local level organisations such as Nature Seychelles have been very successful in running long established marine protected areas, safeguarding fish stocks for artisanal fishers. However, at the regional level the vastness of the western Indian Ocean means that only concerted international efforts, such as those announced last week, will be effective in the fight to stamp out IUU,” said  Nirmal Shah, Chief Executive of Nature Seychelles.
In a bid to regulate industrial fishing, the regional tuna fisheries management body, the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, has listed six vessels as being involved in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activity and estimates that thousands of tonnes of fish are taken annually through IUU activity.
Operating outside fisheries legislation, IUU fishers are also believed to make a significant contribution to the problem of turtle, shark and seabird by-catch, an issue Nature Seychelles has long been campaigning on, including the recent donation of specially designed “O” hooks for trials by the local fishing authority. The association has also been participating in scientific meetings of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission.
IUU is estimated to account for 15 percent of the global marine fisheries catch, worth up to US$9.5 billion and, alongside destructive fishing practices, is listed by the United Nation as one of the most significant and immediate threats to ocean life.
“These modern-day pirates are taking food from our mouths and money from our pockets, in Seychelles and other countries in the region,” said Shah.

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