The Center for Strategic and International Studies has produced an article and podcast plus, on 20 July, a webinar on illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing in Latin America and the Caribbean. The 80-minute webinar explored the link between IUU fishing and coastal livelihoods and economies, the environment, food security, and national sovereignty across Latin America and the Caribbean.
The 20-minute podcast involved an interview with the Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Latin America and the Caribbean Bureau of the US Agency for International Development (US AID). This covered who is impacted by IUU fishing and how, the challenges of combatting IUU fishing, the importance of multilateral efforts and interagency collaboration, as well why this is a priority for the Biden-Harris Administration.
A report from CSIS on 20 July says that IUU fishing in Latin America and the Caribbean is a major concern with effects extending far beyond the fishing industry. IUU fishing itself has detrimental effects on the livelihoods of licit fishers, coastline ecosystems, and fish stocks. Beyond this, the industry also has ties to food insecurity, human trafficking, forced labour, and drug and weapons smuggling. On the Pacific coast of South America IUU fishing is mostly perpetrated by large-scale operations of Chinese distant-water fleets, although some small-scale artisanal IUU fishing is present. IUU fishing in the Caribbean is perpetrated mostly by small-scale fishers from within the region rather than distant-water fleet vessels. Off the coasts of Mexico and Central America distant-water fleet overfishing along Mexico’s Pacific coastline is commonplace, and small-scale Mexican artisanal fleets also regularly fish illegally in the Gulf of Mexico along the US shoreline. In Central America, the main perpetrators of IUU fishing are typically small fleets from neighbouring countries, which is difficult for most countries to combat given their minimal naval deterrence capacity. The report also looks at links to the smuggling of weapons, drugs, humans, and animals, and the exploitation of workers on the vessels. It says that weak governance and endemic corruption have hindered efforts to combat IUU fishing for decades, and that many governments turn a blind eye to IUU fishing in their waters to appease either domestic political interests or powerful global actors, especially China. Hefty investment packages and direct donations are leveraged for exceptions to port measures and impunity for IUU vessels.
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