By Manoj Joshi and B R Srikanth*

The overwhelming success of India’s space missions has highlighted the role of the country’s women scientists.

NEW DELHI (IDN-INPS | Deccan Chronicle) - Think Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), think Vikram Sarabhai, Satish Dhawan, G. Madhavan Nair, Rodham Narsimha and a host of geniuses. They build on an earlier generation of scientists who worked to push India’s space frontiers, men who came to define the contours of the country’s scientific rediscovery — C.V. Raman and Meghnad Saha. But times are changing.

- Photo: 2021

Addressing IUU Fishing in The Interest of Blue Economy and Caribbean SIDS

Viewpoint by P.I. Gomes

Dr P.I. Gomes is former Secretary-General of the Organisation of African, the Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS was previously ACP Group of States).

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago (IDN) — Illegal, Unreported & Unregulated (IUU) fishing continues to have serious negative effects on the management of marine ecosystems across the Oceans of our world, as a whole; but the practice of IUU is devastating lives and livelihoods of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), particularly in the much admired and turquoise tourist havens of the Caribbean Sea.

With limited resources and needed technological capacity for Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) of the expansive Ocean space and Coastal zones of these island countries, the ravaging continues of marine life and fish stocks that are exported for high-priced markets in the USA’s north-eastern seaboard or even farther afield for Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. National and artisanal small-scale fishing communities remain impoverished.

The high nutrition and monetary value of delicacies for gourmet restaurants and high-income homes in the USA and Asian-Pacific countries continue to abound and provide profits for beneficiaries of the large scale IUU operations. These are the structural imbalances between rich, industrialised states and the developing economies of SIDS, in what is fashionable for the World Bank, and others to call the Blue Economy. 

This frontier of hope for sustainable development has been so conceived and promoted as a sector of great prospects for developing countries with sovereign jurisdiction over the 12 to 200 nautical miles comprising their Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) adjacent to each country’s coastline, giving access to commercial fishing and other marine resources. In addition, the EEZ of a country guarantees rights to oil, natural gas, minerals and international trade.

Nevertheless, the capability of a small state for monitoring, control and surveillance of so expansive an EEZ is often not strong enough to prevent the illegal exploitation and destruction of the marine resources by large scale vessels of other countries and Multinational Corporations (MNCs), that systematically extract the Tuna, Prawns, Shrimp and Lobsters as high market value of fish species from SIDS. The increasing size of the global commercial fishing industry is staggering. The market had an estimated value of US$240.99 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach US$438.59 by 2026. ( accessed 2 June 2021).

Of course, it is not implied that all of the total fish catch is IUU. Precisely because it is “illegal” and “unreported”, it is therefore very difficult to obtain accurate data. However, some 10 years ago, IUU was 10-20% of reported catches that amounted to 10- 25 million tonnes of fish with a value of US$ 12 -20 billion. One can reasonably expect with a growing market and despite some improved monitoring and application of the voluntary Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA), the scale of IUU runs into US$ Billions. This is big money that once again fits the pattern of extracting resources from the poor to satisfy the needs and interests of the rich.

Indeed, it is highly regrettable that so minimally, or hardly at all, does the expanding market of nutritionally rich food substantially contribute to the coastal and artisanal, small-scale fishers and national shipping fleets of small states. For these SIDS their efforts for the Blue Economy aim at making optimum use, as best they can, of their Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ).

CARICOM’s Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM)

In this regard, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), since 2003 has established the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) as a specialised institution to promote and facilitate the responsible utilisation of the region’s fisheries and other aquatic resources.  Accordingly, the CRFM is of the view that “the fisheries sector is to be treated as a fundamental pillar for the development of a sustainable blue economy in the Caribbean.”

By this conception of the Blue Economy, the CRFM has adopted a comprehensive structural approach with layers of action that address areas that include (i) the security dimension to prevent, deter and eradicate IUU fishing and transnational organised crime linked to the global fishing industry.

This programme is undertaken as part of the Blue Justice Initiative established with the support of the government of Norway; (ii) optimum resource planning and management by which fisheries products for Climate Resilience will explore potential opportunities for Caribbean SIDS to generate revenue from high-end products made from Sargassum seaweed and other marine resources; (iii) the multilateral trading system and the ongoing controversial negotiations at the WTO to conclude a legally binding agreement to prohibit harmful subsidies that contribute to IUU fishing and overfishing by industrialised countries. 

Confronting these challenges, as core thematic areas for CRFM to make the fisheries sector a fundamental pillar of the blue economy, seems to warrant a structural and systemic approach in an overarching area. By this, I refer to a comprehensive, collaborative Research & Innovation Capacity-building Programme.

It would entail scaling up the ongoing monitoring and research activities now being pursued with institutes such as the Centre for Resource Management & Environmental Studies (CERMES) of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Barbados and other research centres.  It is not the intention to provide details on this occasion, but the approach would be inter-agency and multi-disciplinary and could be an important consideration as the CRFM envisages a meeting later this year in October to design its Third CRFM Strategic Plan to chart the way forward for the period 2022 -2030.

The commendable work undertaken by CRFM on the Regional Working Group on IUU (RWG-IUU) has provided a powerful platform for the continuation and deepening of achievements by which an effective Blue Economy could enable Caribbean SIDS to realise the UN Agenda 2030, Sustainable Development Goal (SDG #14) – to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. 

Realistically designed and implemented, the CRFM’s Third Strategic Plan could bolster food security, ensure more reliable fish supplies and contribute to long-term employment and other economic opportunities for small scale and artisanal fishers of coastal communities across the Caribbean.

Our celebration, therefore on June 5, 2021, of International Day for the Fight against IUU Fishing can be truly an inspiration for Caribbean SIDS to pursue renewal and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic by joining forces to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere”. [IDN-InDepthNews – 04 June 2021]

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