EJF presents 10,000 signature petition to the UN calling for a Global Record on Fishing Vessels.
Feb 03, 2011

EJF presents 10,000 signature petition to the UN calling for a Global Record on Fishing Vessels.

By EJF Staff

Over the past six weeks, 10,000 people from all corners of the globe have signed up to EJF’s petition for a Global Record on Fishing Vessels.

Today at the UN Food and Agriculture headquarters in Rome, EJF presented the petition to representatives of the Committee on Fisheries, and personally handed the signatures to the Director of the Fisheries Division.

With it, we conveyed a strong message that pirate fishing vessels, operating beyond the law, and whose owners go unpunished for their crimes should be put in the spotlight. For now, the first goal of the campaign has been secured and the international community looks set to develop a Global Record, which, for the first time, will provide a range of vital information on fishing vessels and their owners.

The timing for this petition is apt – over the past few days we have received urgent messages from communities we work with in Sierra Leone, desperately seeking support to rid their waters of two vessels that are operating illegally, trawling unsustainably, destroying artisanal fishing gears, and in some cases threatening local fishermen. These two vessels are repeat offenders, routinely infringing national laws and quite literally, operating under the radar.

Even on those occasions when arrests are able to be made, increasingly the costs of penalties are merely considered a cost of doing business and far outweighed by the profits that IUU fishing can secure.

Lacking information on the true beneficial owners of the vessels means that government agencies are gravely hampered in their efforts to penalise and deter wrongdoing at its very core.

Adding their voice to the 10,000 people who have lent their support to the development of a Global Record are the members of the artisanal fishing communities EJF works with in Sierra Leone which have called for international commitments to combat those vessels that hide their identities, flagrantly breach laws aimed at conserving marine resources, and which are a scourge on their daily lives.

EJF hopes that in time, a legally-binding, publicly available Global Record will include information that will assist in the identification of the beneficial ownership of vessels, their flagging histories, fishing authorisations and infractions, including those relating to labour, sanitary and safety standards, and we encourage technical support to developing countries that will maximise the effectiveness of this new tool. In so doing, it will be a demonstrable step forward in protecting our oceans.

Thanks to all of you who have lent your support to this campaign and made it such a success – we’ll look forward to keeping you updated on progress.