Public awareness of the ecological threats of overfishing and the economic losses to States and legal fishers inflicted by illegal fishing activities has never been higher. The international community is responding with new control frameworks such as the FAO Port State Measures Agreement. However, at the operational level, there are still significant challenges to identifying and dealing with illegal fishing operators and their vessels.
This is because:
there is still no universally applied system for vessel identification or central record
company and vessel information and authorisations for many countries is not publically available
available vessel identity information is often conflicting and opaque
limited systems for sharing of relevant fisheries information between countries and regions
gaps and limitations in international legal frameworks
often limited investigative capacity and cooperation between States
As a result, many illegal operators continue to hide illegal activities through frequent vessel name and flag changes, vessel identity and document fraud, shell companies and joint-ventures, and operate with a low risk of detection.
TMT's work has highlighted that the information needed to pursue illegal fishing operators is not being collected, analysed, shared and stored in a systematic manner so that it can be used when needed to undertake effective enforcement action.
To address this problem, we have developed and utilise a number of dedicated tools that support our work and that of our partners.
Fisheries Analytical Capacity Tool
FACT is TMT’s bespoke fisheries intelligence management and analytical system, designed specifically to support, speed up and strengthen the analytical process. FACT has been built with the single express purpose of capturing and analysing the identities and characteristics of the global fishing fleet and the companies that operate it. The system is dedicated to achieving a comprehensive overview of fishing vessel identity (current and historic), ownership, authorisation, compliance history, photo database, positional and other relevant information.
Combined IUU List
The Combined IUU List provides an up to date record of the current best-known identities and operations of all vessels that currently appear on lists of recognised IUU fishing vessels maintained by Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs). TMT maintains the Combined IUU List as a public service, and it is intended as a tool for all relevant stakeholders, including but not limited to enforcement personnel, regional organisations, seafood companies, researchers, vessel insurers and many others. The website is directly linked to FACT, with all listed vessels subject to the same intelligence updates and analysis processes as all vessels and companies in the system.
Vessel Viewer is a tool being jointly developed by TMT and our partner Global Fishing Watch. The tool, made available through an app, integrates TMT fishing vessel identity and risk profile with Global Fishing Watch positional data and algorithms. When combined, these data sources provide users with information on a vessel of interest’s identity, fishing activity, port visits and transshipments. This allows users to identify and cross-check relevant, absent or false information about a given vessel and its fishing operations to inform risk-based decision-making and operational planning. Vessel Viewer is being initially rolled out to countries that TMT and GFW are assisting with the implementation of Port State controls, but will later be developed to support much broader fisheries management applications.
Regional Communications Platforms
Strengthening communication and cooperation on fisheries enforcement between countries and between national agencies is one of our core activities.
To help achieve this, regional communications platforms are set up to facilitate information sharing and mutual assistance between countries, providing a secure hub for live information sharing and collaboration on fisheries enforcement actions.
All communications, documents, photos and other information relating to a case or area of cooperation are further secured and archived, available at any time for national personnel to access and utlise in the course of their work.
TMT and our partners utilise a range of external tools, data sources and platforms to support our work. These include various national, international and subscription maritime domain awareness platforms, public and private satellite data such as optical, satellite aperture radar and VIIRS, and external databases and other information sources.