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 and the EU IUU fishing Regulation. 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 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 focus is on ‘deep’ analysis, looking at a big picture of vessel movements, identity, authorisations, operators, their ownership and operational structures, and if vessels and companies are involved in violations of fisheries law or broader crimes.
Analytical processes are built into FACT to strengthen and support the human analytical processes that take place daily within TMT, and by the government agencies with whom we work. It is a central information system that incorporates our global fisheries vessel and company database, positional data, and a data management system that integrates a wide variety of information sources such as documents, port records, photographs and similar.
The system is dedicated to achieving a comprehensive overview of vessel identity (current and historic), ownership, authorisation, compliance history, photo database, positional and other relevant information. Analytical functionality is built into the system to assist in the identification of vessels and companies of interest, changes in information and identity, and risk behaviour by fishing operators. Information is sourced from thousands of public and subscription sources, from satellite and land based data, documents, photos, and on-the-ground intelligence sources.
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)
The Combined IUU List also contains a record of all vessels that have previously been IUU listed but are now delisted. Vessel details, including identifying information, vessel characteristics, photographs and latest known position where available, are kept updated based on the best available information.
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.
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.