arrow arrow_up breadcrumb-chevron-right breadcrumb-home dropdown-arrow-down loader GALogoWUNEP menu read-more-plus rrss-email rrss-facebook rrss-flickr rrss-instagram rrss-linkedin rrss-twitter rrss-vimeo rrss-youtube rrss_google_plus rrss_skype rrss_web pdf search share play close filter-collapse filter edit media_photo_library media_video_library graphics pictures videos collections next

Combatting Criminal Fisheries in the SIDS (CrimFish) Pirate fishing (fisheries theft or poaching) by nationals of one country in another country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is a growing worldwide concern as it challenges local fisheries’ management efforts, depletes already overfished fisheries, and has been recognized as a major threat to marine biodiversity. Pirate fishing is a particularly important issue for marine resource management in the SIDS, with their economy heavily dependent on fisheries.


Three classes of pirate fishing are typically occuring in EEZ of SIDS - recreational, commercial, and oceanic – each with individual characteristics, threats, and reported locations. It is difficult to identify and provide sufficient evidence to law enforcement, including the vessel’s name and flag. 


 A vessel fishing illegally in the EEZ is usually identified only in close encounter by a passing fishing boat or Coastal Guards patrol. In most cases a pirate vessel has enough time to leave the EEZ unidentified.


However, in addition there are technologies available to track and identify such a vessel.


Satellite surveillance can provide with: • Ship positions building ship routes

  • List of suspected ships
  • List of suspicious routes and destinations
  • Earth Observation information around suspected ships
  • Ancillary data (open source information such as archive photograph of involved ships).


The report of suspicious activity shall rely at least on: 

  • analysis of navigation patterns; 
  • identification of flanking manoeuvres ; 
  • analysis of transhipments ; 
  • ship flag and identity verification issues.


Currently there are two systems in place: Global Fishing Watch, created to show all trackable commercial fishing activity across the globe, based on the data from the Automated Identification Systems and Eyes on the Sea, able to utilize private data, arguably allowing them to build a more thorough picture of illegal activity. Unlike Global Fishing Watch, the latter doesn’t provide any publically-available output, sharing the information only with the relevant government enforcement agencies. 


Drone surveillance 

A new generation of commercial low-cost (1200-2000 USD) drones can offer the flying speed of 64 km/h and offer up to 7km of transmission range. They can be launched from a speedboat without a direct encounter with a suspect vessel, thus increasing the safety of the operation. In combination with on-the-ground intelligence it can help with ship flag and identity verification. A few pilot projects, for example in Belize, Jamaica are currently testing the drones capacity in combating illegal fishing. The combination of satellite and drone technologies accompanied by Geo-location mobile apps can be the sufficient body of proof for starting the criminal investigation reinforced by the backing of the journalists’ community. Any case ending in the prosecution of individuals and companies involved in fisheries crime will act as a preventive measure for other illegal actors, reducing the burden to the economy and improving governance.

Related activities

View all activities