Minister Susi ups ante in fight against fisheries crime at UN

24 May, 2016 | Source: The Jakarta Post

Indonesia is taking advantage of the 25th session of the UN crime prevention body here to further raise global awareness of fisheries crime as a common yet serious global threat.

 

 

The Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice ( CPCJ ), as part of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime ( UNODC ), is discussing prevention and counterterrorism in this year’s meeting of member states from Monday to Friday.

The head of Indonesia’s delegation, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti — reportedly the only head of a delegation with such a position among those present — stressed the need for the international community to underline illegal, unreported and unregulated ( IUU ) fishing as a form of transnational organized crime.

“Prevention of fisheries crime and fisheries-related crimes is part of the effort to realize Indonesia’s vision to be a world maritime axis,” Susi told the plenary session.

IUU fishing, particularly transnational organized fisheries crime, poses a serious problem for the economies of coastal states and the sustainability of their fisheries and has threatened the stability of marine ecosystems. More than 60 percent of ocean fisheries are being exploited beyond their sustainable yields.

In Indonesia IUU fishing has also contributed to annual economic losses of up to US$20 billion. A government study showed that several fishing grounds have been heavily depleted.

Transnational organized crime in fishing is growing into a complex and dangerous activity and is associated with other crimes, Susi said.

Indonesia has encountered several fishing vessels involved in transnational organized criminal groups in fishing that were also engaged in illegal activities such as money laundering, bribery, drug trafficking and human trafficking, as well as tax fraud and customs-related crime. The enslavement of Myanmarese men working for a fishing company operating on Benjina Island, Maluku, last year was a stark example of the transnational crime.

Over the last few years Indonesia has intensified efforts to woo support for its cause, including through bilateral cooperation with UN members sharing a common understanding of how to combat fisheries crime, such as Norway, the US, Australia, Mexico, South Africa and Namibia.

Indonesia, Norway and the UNODC co-hosted a side event on transnational organized fisheries crime later in the day. “Nations […] need to take concrete actions to prevent fisheries crime and fisheries-related crimes in an effective way, which is through enhanced international cooperation on capacity building to implement international instruments,” Indonesian Ambassador to Austria Rachmat Budiman, the alternate head of the delegation, said.

In the last few decades, the international community has developed mechanisms to curb fisheries crime.

At the national level supervision has been implemented, such as port state control, flag state control and enforcement, and by applying ecosystem approaches to ensure fish stock sustainability. In 1995 the UN adopted the Fish Stock Agreement.

Rachmat said it would take quite a long time to convince world leaders to recognize fisheries crime as a transnational organized crime, particularly because of challenges from countries that would be affected by any international mechanism to combat the emerging crime.

The link between IUU fishing and organized criminal syndicates was highlighted in the Dec. 4, 2009 UN Resolution 64/72 on sustainable fisheries, which noted “the concerns about possible connections between international organized crime and illegal fishing in certain regions of the world”.

 

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