Mediterranean Summer Academy on IUU Fishing Delivered by the WMU CAPFISH Project

From 14-25 August, the World Maritime University (WMU) hosted a Summer Academy 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 (KMI). The Mediterranean focused, two-week programme covered a number of topics related to IUU fishing and fisheries more broadly, in order to raise awareness of global and regional problems as well as tools available to address them.

Professor Max Mejia, WMU President, welcomed the participants by noting that IUU fishing is one of the biggest ocean and maritime challenges saying, “Not only does it have far-reaching economic consequences, it is also associated with labour abuses, including slavery-like conditions and other human rights infringements, organized crime, environmental degradation, and security and socioeconomic challenges. As IUU fishing is a complex and difficult problem, cooperation and collaboration are necessary to address it effectively.” 

During its first two years, the CAPFISH Project ran four global workshops aimed at building capacity in developing regions. These workshops reached over 100 practitioners in maritime and ocean administrations across the developing world. To better facilitate regional cooperation to address IUU fishing, CAPFISH has now moved into a new phase and will offer programmes in different developing regions, beginning with this first Mediterranean-focused Summer Academy that included 23 practitioners from fisheries administrations across the Mediterranean including Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Türkiye, Albania and Montenegro. The Project team worked closely with the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) to deliver the Summer Academy with GFCM providing invaluable expertise and assistance on regional matters, and assistance in identifying delegates as well as securing their in-person participation.

Through case studies, panels, and interactive sessions, participants had the opportunity to engage with each other, highlight local and regional issues, and consider solutions to local problems. Experts from the FAO, UN DOALOS, UNODC, GFCM, the National Institute of Fisheries Science in Korea, the Korea Coast Guard, and academia delivered a series of presentations on blue economy, international and regional fisheries governance, IUU fishing and other maritime crimes, small-scale fisheries, labour and safety on fishing vessels, trade in fish, and cooperation to fight IUU fishing. Interactive activities included surveys, vessel tracking exercises with Global Fishing Watch, the creation of a roadmap to improve safety in the region, a visit to the SEA-U Marine Science Centre, and presentations by delegates on IUU fishing and cooperation at regional and sub-regional level. The delegates also participated in a role-playing exercise developed by the Pew Charitable Trusts, in which they took the role of either fishers or coast guard and developed policy solutions to problems identified during the course of the exercise. It was an important learning experience, as the delegates could see the effects of their policy decisions play out in real time.

The Summer Academy closed with remarks from Dr Miguel Bernal, the Executive Secretary of GFCM saying, “We all have a responsibility to work together towards the eradication of illegal fishing; if we are able to efficiently implement some of the ideas that have been discussed during this course, we would make big advances in this direction and leave the sector in a better situation for future generations.”

As a trans-disciplinary initiative, the CAPFISH Project surfaces knowledge and breaks silos to provide a comprehensive picture of IUU fishing to identify adequate responses. 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). 

To access the programme from the Mediterranean Summer Academy, click here.

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