CAPFISH Project Educates WMU Students about IUU Fishing

From 19-22 October, World Maritime University (WMU) students from 19 countries had the opportunity to attend an engaging workshop held at WMU on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. As part of the CAPFISH research project sponsored by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF) of the Republic of Korea and delivered in cooperation with the Korea Maritime Institute, the workshop included a broad spectrum of presentations from high level IUU fishing experts to tackle the complex and multi-faceted issue. 

In opening remarks for the workshop, Dr Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, President of WMU, noted that IUU fishing is one of the biggest ocean and maritime challenges with an estimated cost to the global economy of approximately 20 billion dollars a year, with most of that being lost from the economies of the developing world. She highlighted that it is not just an economic problem, and that IUU fishing is associated with labour abuses, including slavery-like conditions and other human rights infringements, organized crime, environmental degradation and socioeconomic challenges. “WMU has embarked on a vitally important capacity-building and education drive to raise awareness and find integrative solutions to the IUU challenge. It is a scourge from which the world needs to rid itself,” she said.

Mr Dongsik Woo, Director-General of MOF, addressed the participants and highlighted efforts of the Republic of Korea to tackle IUU fishing that include legal avenues to punish violators, a levy scheme to recover illegal profits, strengthening supervision and monitoring of IUU fishing through vessel monitoring systems (VMS), and port state control (PSC) inspections. He expressed that MOF was pleased to share their technology and experience through the workshop to build global capacity in the effort to eradicate IUU fishing. “Only when countries around the world work together to prevent and eradicate IUU fishing, can we protect the marine ecosystem and manage fishery resources for sustainable fisheries,” he said.

A range of high-level speakers joined the workshop virtually as well as in person, providing a unique opportunity for transformative education to help solve the problem of IUU fishing. The workshop was the first in a series that will disseminate the expertise of United Nations specialized agencies and experts, including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In addition to the UN Agencies, speakers included representatives from DG MARE European Commission, the Jamaica Defense Force, the Argentinian Coast Guard, University of British Columbia, University of Sierra Leone, St. Andrews University, Korea Maritime Institute, Pew Charitable Trusts, the Korea Fisheries Monitoring Center, and independent experts from Iceland and New Zealand. Students learned about how IUU fishing creates social, environmental and economic problems in the Caribbean, the South Atlantic, West Africa and the South Pacific. Regional collaboration was a major theme as it is crucial, particularly for developing countries, to pool resources and information to fight IUU fishing. 

The combined perspectives are all key to building the knowledge of the students who are professionals from across the world including, The Bahamas, China, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Iran, Liberia, Malawi, Nigeria, the Philippines, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Uganda. When they graduate at the close of October 2021, they will be at the forefront of the fight against IUU fishing in their countries, with the majority working in national administrations (fishing, maritime, ocean and environmental departments) and maritime surveillance and enforcement agencies (navies, coastguards and ministries of justice). 

As a trans-disciplinary initiative, CAPFISH integrates science, economics, maritime policy and ocean governance, law and regulation, maritime technology and operation, safety at sea, societal factors, human rights, and compliance monitoring and enforcement. CAPFISH aligns SDG-17 (Partnerships for the Goals) with SDG 4 (Quality Education) to address the problem that IUU fishing presents for achieving SDG 14 (Life Below Water) and SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth).

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