Finalist, Seafood Champion Awards Innovation Category
Developing countries are often seen as powerless to stop illegal fishing in their waters. FISH-i Africa, a partnership of eight East African nations, is challenging this perception with a low-cost information-sharing solution to combat illegal fishing in the Western Indian Ocean.
The eight countries—Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Somalia and Tanzania—bring together national enforcement authorities, regional organizations and international experts to combat large-scale illegal fishing. For years, illegal operators have been successfully exploiting the fish-rich waters of the Indian Ocean and taking advantage of the region’s weak governance and limited operational and enforcement capacity. The FISH-i Africa Task Force, launched in 2012, provides authorities with the information, intelligence and capacity to take action against illegal operators at a low cost. A string of investigations, settlements and prosecutions as well as improved licensing and flagging checks have resulted from the cooperation among FISH-i Africa’s members, producing a more compliant fisheries sector.
FISH-i Africa has driven over 30 investigations, resulting in successful fines and prosecutions that provide a strong deterrence to illegal activity and promote legitimate operators. It has also compiled significant evidence about illegal operators’ methods, which include using dual identities, creating fraudulent documents, engaging in corruption and hiding behind weak flag states.
FISH-i Africa is looking to expand their model to grow greater cooperation among other flag, port and market states around the world.
This award is recognition for all the Task Force members who have been prepared to do things differently, to work together with their neighbours and to really take on the challenge of stopping illegal fishing. We hope this award will enable FISH-i to grow its network and to work more closely with the seafood industry to improve transparency and sustainability.Per Erik Bergh