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Tackling Illegal fishing in the EEZ

Tackling Illegal fishing in the EEZ
  • PublishedJune 8, 2021
French Polynesia a territory as big as europe, on a tuna school background
Fishing in the EEZ

Fisheries surveillance is a constant concern for France in the Pacific EEZ and represents a central issue in the State’s action at sea. These long-standing efforts have paid off, as no offenders have been reported for many years.

In 2020, France dedicated a total of 1,230 hours at sea (almost 50 days) , to monitoring fisheries in its Pacific EEZ and its surroundings.

While all of the resources deployed to face illegal fishing are still “lean” given the immensity of an EEZ as big as the size of Europe, these resources are nonetheless capable of asserting French sovereignty and dissuading illegal practices.

However, the offenders are most often active at the borders of EEZs, in international waters. This was denounced by four Sout15h American countries. In a joint statement in November 2020, Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia expressed their “firm commitment to take measures to prevent, deter and jointly address Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing activities.”

While the statement 15does not explicitly mention the origin of the offending trawlers, previous incidents leave no room for doubt.

Last July, Ecuador expressed its “unease” with China after 260 Chinese vessels sailed along the coast of the Galapagos Islands, which is a marine reserve area. More dramatically, in 2016 Argentina sank a Chinese trawler that refused to comply. Although these incidents remain fortunately rare, the stakes are exacerbated by pure greed.

In a 2016 report, the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) showed that 276,000 to 338,000 tonnes of tuna are illegally caught each year. This poaching is estimated to be worth nearly 664 million euros.

Finally, it should be remembered that the Pacific Ocean has 60% of the world’s tuna stock.

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