Ricardo Serrão Santos MEP
Chair of the “Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services” Working Group of the EP Intergroup on “Climate Change, Biodiversity, and Sustainable Development”
Chair of the “Fisheries, Aquaculture & Integrated Maritime Policy” Working Group
While no international legal definition of Fisheries crime exists, such concept is used in this context to refer to a wide range of criminal offences (e.g. documentary fraud, tax evasion, money laundering, human trafficking, forced labour, organized criminality) along the fisheries value chain.
During the Intergroup meetings held on the topic in 2011 and 2012 it was pointed out that illegal fishing and overfishing should not be limited to fisheries management and conservation, but also need to be viewed in a broader criminal context.
Due to the transnational and organised nature of criminal offences informally called fisheries crimes, there is a need to combat them through close collaboration at the international level, which is also highlighted and supported by the European Parliament 2011 Resolution on illegal fishing.
Since the last Intergroup event several important developments have taken place. The INTERPOL Fisheries Crime Working Group was created in 2012, which initiates and leads projects aimed at detecting and combating criminal offences described as fisheries crime. In 2015 the first International Symposium on Fisheries Crime (FishCRIME) was organised, a first step towards initiating a global dialogue amongst stakeholders. The momentum continued in FishCRIME 2016 as well as FishCRIME 2017, which was recently held in Vienna from 25-26 September.
In addition, the UNODC global programme against fisheries crime (FishNET) will be initiated this year, which aims to enhance developing countries’ capacity to address fisheries crime by raising awareness, help countries update their penal codes and other related laws, as well as enhance the criminal justice and law enforcement response to fisheries crime.
This conference will gather policy-makers and stakeholders with the aim to follow-up on ongoing and new international programmes to combat fisheries crime also highlighting results and lessons learned so far. Concrete fisheries crime cases will also be presented as well as the work of the EU in terms of fight against IUU fishing as well as the need to improve inter-agency and international cooperation for better enforcement against crimes linked to IUU fishing.