September 14, 2022Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / NewsThe Confiance class or Patrouilleurs Antilles Guyane (PAG) The fight against IUU (Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated fishing) is one the main task of the French Armed forces in Guiana (FAG). Coveted fishy waters French Guiana coastline spreads over 234 mi (378 kilometres), offering the territory a 47,006 sq mi (121,746 km2) Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ). This area, abounding with fish and relatively abandoned by the local fishers, is surrounded by two less economically developed areas (Suriname and the State of Amapá, Brazil), where fishing activity is far more important. This situation creates a strong pressure on its resources, massively coveted by traditional, small-scale fishing vessels coming from neighbouring countries. On the coast, mostly in the territorial waters (TTW), the high value of the weakfish swim bladder on the Asian market strengthens the profitability of IUU fishing. Offshore, the red snapper, unexploited by French fishermen, is caught by angling by forty-five Venezuelan trollers, benefiting from licences granted by the European Union. Among those are meddling illegals, along with crabbers from Guyana, using fish traps. The French Forces in Guiana, a key role against IUU In response to this constant pressure, monitoring waters under French sovereignty and jurisdiction is paramount. The French Forces in Guiana (FAG) naturally rely on satellite and air assets for this purpose. Regularly, the maritime surveillance aircraft Falcon-50M is deployed from mainland, in order to cover the entire EEZ. These flights are complemented by those performed by aircraft of the French Air and Space Force in Guiana, CASA CN-235 and helicopters. Intelligence gathered by those observations provides guidance for the patrols achieved relentlessly by maritime assets sailing across French waters. French Navy’s Antilles-Guyane patrol ships (PAG) focus on the offshore and eastern fishing area, while inshore patrol vessels of the Gendarmerie Maritime mainly patrol along the coast. The FAG maritime component, supported by the air assets, realises more than 100 boardings on IUU vessels each year; a unique level of activity in French overseas departments. The very nature of each of those actions widely differs depending on the target. Crews of the biggest Brazilian ships regularly strongly oppose the boarding, by throwing heavy objects such as gas bottles, wooden planks, fireworks. The FAG respond to this violence with professionalism and firmness. Naval riflemen and commandos (French special forces) are often used against this kind of opposition. In addition to those specific means, the regular boarding teams of the maritime assets perform the majority of the boardings against compliant crews. In order to enhance the impact of those actions, the FAG maintain a close dialogue with the administrations in charge, ashore, of the legal finish: Gendarmerie Maritime, Police, and Prosecutors. The aim is to assert a firm response to illegal activities, in order to deter crews from offending again. The first step is the seizure of the catch and the fishing gear. If the offence is repeated or if the crew has resorted to violence, the ship itself can be seized and destroyed. Violent crewmembers are brought to justice and usually condemned to unconditional prison sentences. However, if the FAG are the main contributor, the repressive strand of the fight against IUU fishing in French Guiana is not the only response to the issue. The low exploitation of the fishery resources by the French fishermen, due to the weak development of this professional sector, is one of the roots of the problem of IUU fishing. The French Guianese fleet is composed by only a hundred of licenced vessels and around 400 professional fishermen, compared to 1200 in Suriname and tens of thousands in Brazilian northern States. Moreover, among those 400 fishermen, 90% are foreigners, as the young Guianese people are not interested in joining the profession. Nature abhors a vacuum, and the local, legal fishing activity has to be structured in order to regain a field left apart. In addition, strengthening an international cooperation with Guyana, Suriname and Brazil is paramount in order to enable a more effective struggle against their national vessels fishing illegally in French waters. Besides, improvement of the information exchange with those countries can help them to increase the knowledge of their fishing fleets in order to better control and prevent them to come to French waters. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
August 18, 2022Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / NewsThe sand rush, after water the sand is the most exploited natural resource in the world. This over-exploitation may lead to major environmental, economic and social consequences. An April 2022 UN report thus called for urgent actions to avoid a “sand crisis” What is sand exploitation? The global demand for sand has tripled over the last two decades, now reaching 50 billion tons a year. It is expected to keep growing as sand is a key ingredient for concrete, roads, electronics and glass. The demand is also increasing due to growing urbanization and construction, especially in China (60% of the consumption) where artificial islands and buildings are absorbing huge amounts of concrete, therefore of sand. Sand is mostly extracted from lakes, riverbeds and coastlines, where sharper grains and silica sand can be found. The methods of extraction depend on the location of the sand: backhoes, bare hands or shovels are used along rivers, meanwhile suction pumps and dredging boats are employed along coastlines and underwater. Desert sand is unfortunately useless for construction as the grains are too small and smooth for binding in concrete. Meanwhile, the exploitation of marine sand is growing due to the depletion of land-based resources. However, the sea sand needs to be desalinated: the amount of fresh water required for this operation is huge and increases the environmental impact. Major environmental consequences These days, sand is consumed faster than it can be replaced, as natural processes take hundreds of thousands of years. The consequences of over-exploitation can already be seen in satellite images, showing coastlines and riverbanks erosion. They can be various and depend on the location and the methods of extraction: river channels may widen or narrow, sediment flows may increase or disappear and changes can happen suddenly or very slowly. The most kown impact is coastal erosion. Current studies estimate that between 75 and 90% of the world’s beaches have shrunk. 25 Indonesian islands have already disappeared due to massive sand extraction. In the Mekong River, the digging of the delta (roughly 2 centimeters) has caused the salinization of fertile lands. The banks of the Mekong have become unstable and should they collapse, more than 500 000 Vietnamese would have to migrate. But sand mining is also responsible for the destruction of biodiversity, changes in the chemical composition of waters or the sedimentation flows. Even worse, the effects of sand exploitation would probably increase the effects of global warming such as the rise of sea level. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
July 5, 2022Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / NewsNo less than 25 million tons of fish are believed to be lost each year due to Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing activity (IUU fishing) over the world. For some enforcement officials, IUU fishing has even become “the world’s top maritime security threat”. The Pacific Ocean, extending from India to the west coast of the American continent, is in its main area concerned by the fishery ressource pillage, as are African waters. Chinese Fishing Fleet Asian countries are the main actors involved in such plundering of the fisheries, for both economic and food reasons. Like the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), the Chinese fishing fleet is experiencing an unprecedented expansion. Although it seems impossible today to determine the precise number of vessels it includes, many experts do not hesitate to describe them as an “armada”. The main consequences of this detrimental situation are the depletion of local fish stocks and major economic losses for regional systems. In addition to these environmental and economic dangers, the plundering of fisheries resources can occasionally contribute to creating food tensions, as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has already pointed out on several occasions. A Hybrid Fleet The Chinese fishing fleet also appears as an efficient tool of geopolitical influence. Indeed, deep-sea fisheries obviously have another purpose: the tensions that arise from them reveal their highly strategic dimension. The Chinese fishing armada that is sailing all over the planet represents a civil-military force. As real paramilitary actors in the pay of the Chinese government– which finances them very largely –, they contribute to the territorial expansion of China. Fighting against IUU fishing on a global scale seems to be impossible. As far as the Pacific Ocean is concerned, the challenge is obvious because of its vastness and the lack of appropriate assets to control fisheries. Nevertheless, the fight against the plundering of fish resources must not be seen as a losing battle. Initiatives to limt IUU Facing this issue, some countries of the Pacific have already begun to conduct joint operations in order to oppose them. For example, France, Australia, New Zealand and other smaller countries in the area have organized themselves through occasional exercises and joint missions. This cooperation, which entails deployments of military vessels, has proved its worth and effectiveness, and must be maintained and even reinforced. Indeed, it appears that even though “blue boats” and other rogue vessels are respecting the exclusive economic zones, they are voluntarily stationed at their rightful limit. On the “eastern” part of the Pacific, Chile, Argentina, Peru and France are uniting efforts to respond to this same threat. In that respect, smaller patrol boat type units are real assets and allow for a timely response to Asian fishing vessels’ looting activities. In addition, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and geostationary satellites are effective means of elongation and enhance the coverage of such a vast ocean as the Pacific. Legal Framework From a regulatory point of view, the states did not wait to be confronted with the “fait accompli” of over-fishing to design effective tools. Firstly, the Montego Bay Convention, defines in a general way the maritime spaces and the conditions of their exploitation. Enclaves make it possible to envisage areas useful for the reproduction of species, as well as areas less exposed to all types of pollution. For instance, two maritime areas on either side of French Polynesia are subject to special regulations in order to limit the plundering of fish and to protect a certain number of threatened marine species. Secondly, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has enacted a number of devices (AIS, VMS…) to identify fishing vessels that violate the rules in so-called protected waters. While countries may rely on Information Fusion Centres (IFC) to fight IUU fishing, other initiatives, such as the “Global Fishing Watch” platform have been developed, in which even insurers have stakes. In the same way, NGOs or embarked government personnel can be relays to enforce directly or indirectly the Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA). Another means which has recently emerged and is not sufficiently considered yet is the use of civil actors. Indeed, companies can appear as influential as States nowadays. This is why large retailers, together with producer chains, are now trying to combat bad fishing practices through a body called the “Seafood Task Force”. Finally, still in connection with the civilian world, partnerships are increasingly being developed with private airlines, which contribute to intelligence gathering during their flights, especially when aerial surveillance means are deployed in operations elsewhere or are under maintenance. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
April 27, 2022Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / NewsSea map South China The territorial claims of the countries bordering the South China Sea have led to a military escalation. In addition to navies strengthening, military bases are being established on various islands in the Spratly and Paracel archipelagos, raising fears of maritime security deterioration in the area. South China Sea, what is happening ? While incidents are multiplying in the South China Sea, involving the increasingly active Chinese fishing fleets, commercial trade vessels, but also military ships and maritime militias patrolling the area, maritime security is at the heart of the international community’s concerns (In 2018, the Vietnam National Border Committee counted 42 fishing incidents with China, involving 44 boats and 280 Chinese fishermen). Maritime security “consists of taking into account navigation-related risks as well as security issues that is ensuring protection against malicious acts aimed at ships”. With Sino-American tensions in the background, the South China Sea is a contested area. Beijing has claimed sovereignty over the “nine-dash line” since 1947, asserting the enclosed space is historical heritage. However, the islands within this zone are also claimed by other countries: Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Vietnam for the Spratlys, and only Vietnam for the Paracels. The competing territorial claims over the South China Sea © The Maritime Executive The July 12th 2016 decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague (PCA) emphasizes that Beijing has no historical rights in the South China Sea and that “China has violated the sovereign rights of the Philippines in its exclusive economic zone.” Since 2014, Beijing has increased the number of its warships to defend its interests. In 2020, it became the world’s largest military fleet in terms of combat force units. In parallel, China has undertaken the reclamation and militarization of some islets, building airstrips, hangars, logistics hubs, radar stations, anti-aircraft and anti-ship missile batteries in low-lying areas. The old and new Fiery Cross Reef (Spratly Archipelago) as of April 17, 2015. (Photo CSIS AMTI. AFP) Faced with this increasing arsenal in the area, bordering countries remain helpless. They have neither the military capabilities nor the financial means to deal with a direct conflict with Beijing, which is skilfully using its influence to promote its interests. The relationship between China and the ASEAN countries (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) is thus tending to be strengthened in economic matters, particularly so that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement (RCEP) can come into force as soon as possible. The “New Silk Roads” are also an opportunity for Beijing to create dependence among the countries receiving Chinese capital and to impose its model in this part of the world. How to preserve the freedom of navigation ? This manoeuvre of intimidation towards the littoral countries is however denounced by the international community. The reclamation and militarization of the islets are considered as an obstacle to the freedom of navigation in this zone. Yet this freedom is a constituent element of the Indo-Pacific strategies of Western nations, which regularly assert their freedom of navigation’s rights in these disputed areas, from the Taiwan Strait in the north to the Spratly archipelago in the south. In February 2021, two U.S. naval air groups patrolled the South China Sea. As for France, it sent a nuclear submarine, accompanied by a logistics ship,to patrol the area, in order to “enhance knowledge and reaffirm that international law is the only rule that applies, regardless of the sea we sail in,” French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly said on Twitter. The Western manoeuvres proved that maritime security has not been breached for the moment, but remains threatened. Indeed, neighbouring countries cannot counter China’s hegemonic expansion by themselves. The regular presence of Western navies seems necessary to avoid a definitive hindrance of the zone by Beijing, as long as the evolution of its legal status allows it.  Like this:Like Loading... [...]
February 17, 2022Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / Miscellaneous / NewsArctic routes By mid-century, the chances are high for Transpolar Passage to open across the Arctic Ocean through the North Pole, mainly due to global warming effects. And most nations have buried their collective heads in the sand for this coming reality except China. So, you may forget about requiring nuclear icebreakers. Polar Code, UNCLOS, and insurance companies may still mandate ice-resistant, polar-class ships during summer seasons within the next few decades. But it may also be possible to sail in your regular vessel across the Earth’s top. Climate change opens Arctic new sea routes The Earth’s Arctic is in the face of rapid climate change. The thinning and shrinking of summer sea ice in the Arctic is happening quicker than previous scientists’ projections and estimations. And global warming has been the main propeller. According to recent studies, the Arctic will be ice-free for most of the summer between 2020 and 2050. And an Arctic free from ice has significant economic and strategic implications when it comes to global shipping. If you own a vessel, you will potentially be able to traverse the Arctic Ocean. These new Trans-Arctic shipping routes could mean short distances between Northern China and Northern Europe by approximately 4,000 nautical miles. They could also reduce the shipping times by up to 14 days. Treaties that respect and protect the Arctic, thanks to UNCLOS rules Countries like the USA, Canada, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia developed independent policies that govern the entire or parts of the Arctic. And the European Union, China, and South Korea were also not been left behind. The Arctic Ocean policy priorities might differ, but each Arctic nation seems to show concerns about resource development, defense and sovereignty, environmental and wildlife protection, and shipping routes. The primary treaties and agreements that govern all or parts of the Arctic region include; The 1920 Svalbard Treaty between 14 counties is in charge of the economic and political status of Svalbard.The 1988 Arctic Cooperation Agreement between Canada and the United States commands bilateral cooperation concerning the Northwest Passage. Unfortunately, this treaty doesn’t solve Canada and USA’s disagreements and conflicts about the passage’s legal status.The 2011 Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement that the Arctic Council member states concluded organizes rescue and search operations in the Arctic region.The Barents Sea Border Agreement specifies the demarcation line between Russia and Norway in the Barents Sea. Conflict of interests due to natural resources and boundaries in this neutral continent The possibility of new conflicts outburst and an intensification of the existing ones in the Arctic are starting to be worrying, most of which are boundaries and natural resources conflicts. For decades now, we have witnessed interstate disputes like the USA versus Canada’s conflict in the Beaufort Sea over the border delimitation. Despite UNCLOS rules, other lingering international conflicts of interest in the Arctic include; The Russian Federation versus the USA in the Bering Sea conflict.The Denmark/Greenland versus Canada in the Davis Straight conflict.Russia versus Norway in the Barents Sea conflict.Norway versus Russia and other states in the status of the Svalbard question. The Arctic Ocean’s natural resources are the animal and mineral natural resources that offer or can offer economic benefit or utility to humans. The Arctic region features significant amounts of boreal forests, minerals, fresh water, and marine life, including different fish species. Russia and USA have already discovered billions of oil and natural gas in the Arctic Ocean, which is expected to be sold to Europe, Japan, China, and many other nations. Minerals like bauxite, nickel, copper, diamond, iron ore, and phosphate are also plentiful natural resources in the Arctic. And Russia is among the nations showing interest. Greenland holds approximately 10 percent of the globe’s freshwater reserves. Due to the low population density and mountainous areas, hydropower is also among the anticipated Arctic’s natural resources. Arctic’s environmental and ecological risks and effects Climate change will likely force numerous sub-Arctic fish species to extend into Arctic regions. And we are likely to see more fishing activities. But the most significant threat from increased Arctic Ocean shipping activities appears to be oil release into the Arctic’s marine life and environment. And there is also the risk of emissions that deposit soot onto the ice cap, thus darkening it and accelerating warming. The effect of this warming would mean continuing shrinkage of Arctic summer sea ice. The environmental toxins in the Arctic’s ecosystem and rise in water temperatures can significantly increase the rate of polar species extinctions. Final Word Today, the Arctic Ocean and the surrounding Arctic regions are equal to other global parts. The UNCLOS offers a satisfactory framework for non-violent conflict resolutions. UNCLOS continues to state that coastal states possess sovereign rights to natural resources in the seabed and water within a two-hundred-mile Exclusive Economic Zone. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
February 10, 2022Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / News / PiracyChannel of Mozambique map Groups on the “Swahili Coast” started the Mozambique Channel insurgency in 2017. The revolution now includes not less than 800 separate attacks across Mozambique, especially Northern Mozambique. The attacks have resulted in at least 2600 fatalities while other 600,000 individuals are now displaced. The importance of this strategic region for maritime security and traffic By mid 19th century, the Mozambique Channel had for decades played a central role in the trade between the Western world, East Asia, and also within the Indian Ocean. Yet an international naval response was necessary to prevent illegal traffic and safeguard channel trade, a similar scenario we see today. The Mozambique Channel has been a significant route for shipping in Eastern Africa. The Channel receives every major river in Madagascar. It also features the ports of Toliary and Mahajanga on its coast. The ports of Beira, Mozambique, and Maputo and the Zambezi River’s mouth are also along the opposite shore of the Mozambique Channel. The current maritime security situation The ongoing rebellion in northern Mozambique has led to multiple maritime security concerns in the Mozambique Channel, a primary transit course for the marine traffic in the Indian Ocean’s arm. For instance, March 2021 was a period that saw a sour struggle for the port of Palma, reinforcing concerns about maritime security between Madagascar and the Mozambique coast. Today, the Mozambique Channel is already experiencing limited local maritime-security capacity. Piracy, illegal fishing, and other reasons for insecurities in the Mozambique Channel Several factors contribute to the Mozambique Channel insecurities, like the significant energy development projects of offshore gas fields near the Cabo Delgado Province’s coast. In August 2020, the militants’ capture of the port of Mocimboa da Praia led to an escalation of the insurgency in Mozambique. This insecurity led to the disruption of the enormous gas projects due to the weak maritime security along the Channel. This has also opened prospects for terror groups to fund and expand their operations, leaving essential coastal lines susceptible to naval threats. Since 2017, drug trafficking along the Mozambique Channel has been another threat in the region while drug traffickers were using the Channel as a trade route to smuggle heroin to Mozambique from Afghanistan. Additionally, the East African coast faces many challenges concerning illegal fishing and piracy that have thrived in the region for decades now. Piracy concerns led Mozambique to allow other countries, like the South African Navy, to offer security assistance. The international engagement in the area So far, the Mozambican armed forces seem to be overwhelmed as far as restoring order in the country is concerned, despite receiving reinforcements from several security contractors before. Instead, the insurgency appears to steadily grow in ambition and proficiency, creating a growing appreciation of the maritime aspects of the security situation. The results have been detrimental as the latest developments have led Total, the French energy company, to freeze work on its Mozambique high-cost liquefied natural gas venture. When it comes to international responses, Portugal has committed itself to station 60 soldiers to train local Special Forces. On the other side, France has areas off the East African coast, the Mayotte and Reunion, and several other Indian Ocean territories. The European Union (EU) has not been left behind as it keeps focusing its counter-piracy naval function on the Somalian coast with the Atalanta operation. But it now routinely consists of less than two naval assets, a situation that, together with the overall EU reluctance to more deeply involve themselves in the Mozambique state of affairs, has led to low likelihoods of extending the naval operation south to the Mozambique Channel. The United States of America have also involved itself in the Mozambique Channel’s regional maritime capacity-building attempts. Recently, the U.S announced a mission to offer the Mozambique marines military training to enhance the local armed forces’ ability to battle the insurgency. And after a technical mission dispatch, reports claim that the South African Development Community nations are thinking of stationing around 3000 troops to neutralize the insurgency. But implementing such a plan may not be that easy. The notion of an emerging maritime security Hotspot Today, the Mozambique Channel waters are becoming a primary new security hotspot throughout the Indian Ocean. Islamist groups have insurrected in Northern Mozambique, leading to an increased disruption in the Channel. And the Mozambique government seems to be powerless in suppressing the insurgence altogether. The idea of this emerging maritime security hotspot has called for European partners and the Quad nations to help contain the situation before stepping of other factors into the vacuum. The Mozambique insurgency is currently threatening security throughout the Mozambique Channel, the 1000-nm long watercourse separating East Africa and Madagascar. Approximately 30% of the global tanker traffic passes here, and the region hosts some of the largest gas reserves. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
November 19, 2021Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / Newsmaritime drone Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing (IUU) activities are a major economic loss for many countries unable to protect their maritime area. Furthermore, they have a strong impact on the sustainability of marine resources. But how to protect millions of kilometers without dozens of patrol boat? It appears that using maritime drone is one of the best opportunities. Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing activities Fishes are one of the major natural resources for food in a world of growing population. The appetence from Asian countries for sea-food developed illegal fishing activities in Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) belonging to countries which don’t have the capacity to control their area. According to the United Nation Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), IUU fishing activities represent 11 to 26 million tons of fish per year and loss of US$ 10 to 23 billion. Despite a binding FAO Agreement, these illegal activities remain a challenge for many countries. Use of maritime drones against IUU Using drone is a flexible solution to fight illegal fishing activities. Drones can be deployed from different location: shore, RHIBS, patrol boat, ships or airport. Depending on models, their autonomy and sensors (such as high resolution cameras) offer a wide range of opportunities for a quite affordable price and for limited human resources. Drones can stay for hours at sea, covering a long range of EEZ or Territorial Waters. They can monitor, record and follow IUU fishing activities to enable local authorities to catch and prosecute illegal fishers. Several countries have already understood the opportunity. In march 2021, the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) announced the acquisition of two drones to conduct fisheries surveillance near shore. Air Force pilots were trained to operate drones, involving cooperation between Seychelles Coast Guard and Seychelles Air Force. The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) is another user since 2018.This agency, in charge to develop a safe and sustainable European Union maritime sector, extended its contract with the French company CLS and the Portuguese company Tekever for the supply of drones capable to cover 1 300 kilometers with an autonomy of 12 hours. Different types of drones Drone is a huge market estimated to 29 million of units by the end of 2021. However, four different types can be identified: multi-rotor, fixed-wing, single rotor helicopter and fixed wing hybrid. The most common (and the cheapest) is the multi-rotor, a small drone with a compact body. Multiple propellers allow vertically take-off and precise control but consume a lot of power. Autonomy remains limited. Fixed wing look like conventional planes. They can operate on long range but required most of the time pilot ability. Some are equipped with solar panels which allow them to remain longer in mission by providing power. Single-rotor helicopter is basically an unmanned helicopter. With a decent autonomy and a vertical take-off, they are the most complex and expensive solution. Finally, fix-wing hybrid model is the newest type of drone, a mix between multi-rotor (used for vertical take-off) and fixed wing (used while flying). It seems to be the best model to suit with the environment of maritime operation. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
November 8, 2021Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / NewsLaw of the sea UNCLOS The United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) will celebrate in 2022 its forty’s anniversary. Qualified as “package deal”, it is the most “comprehensive document ever adopted by the international community”. The convention strengthened the purpose of customary international laws by codifying its provisions and by creating new ones. International Law Regulation The Statute of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) considers as a source of law “international customs, as an evidence of general practice accepted as law”. Two conditions must be met in order to establish a legally binding rule of customary international law. First, it must be a general and consistent practice adopted by States. The second condition, “opinio juris”, requires that the custom should be considered “as State practice amounting to a legal obligation”. A rule considered as customary will therefore be binding to all States unless they persistently objected to its application. Initially the sea was ruled by a “laissez faire” regime subjected to European powers’s trade imperatives and disputes. The “basic rules of the law of the sea were designated by customary law”, but the increasing use of the oceans for navigation and fishing purposes led to the first maritime legal concept . In the 20th century, the International Court of Justice has qualified international law of the sea’s provisions as customary international law. Consequently, these rules became binding to the international community. In 1958, the four Geneva Conventions of the law of the sea have set the first codified legal framework applicable to the ocean. Again, the ICJ ruled that some of the Conventions’ provisions should be addressed as customary, such as the baseline limitation or the principle of sovereign immunity of warship. In the Continental Shelf Case (Libya v. Malta), the ICJ defined the “three role multilateral treaties can assume in relation to custom: recording function, defining function and a developing function”. UNCLOS, which was adopted in 1982, fulfilled such purpose. Qualified as a reflection of customary international law , the Convention codified and crystalized provisions already considered as customs by the ICJ. However, it also incorporated new subjects, such as environmental issues and disputes settlement, which could generate new customary international law. In the North Sea Continental Shelf case (1969), the ICJ stated the three conditions under which treaty provisions could be addressed as customary Law of the Sea ratification The extensive ratification UNCLOS combined by the customary statute of its provisions contribute to standardization of the law of the sea around the world. For example, despite not being part of UNCLOS, the United-States comply with its customary provisions and is an advocate for its rightful application through research and scholars. In the 21st century, customary international law is not obsolete as it enables State to share a common set of binding rules and to prevent legal vacuum. In nowadays, the notion of fishing or navigation customary rights is oftenly used by States in order to support coastal States sovereignty or sovereign rights over a maritime area. However, an established customary right in international law of the sea, is not without consequences and should be understood and used cautiously. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
November 2, 2021Human-Trafficking / Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / News / Weapons TraffickingEastern Mediterranean flashpoint Eastern Mediterranean is a crossroads between continents. The complexity of the region and tensions between countries make the area a dangerous flashpoint. All kind of destabilization and maritime issues monitored seem to be linked to one actor, the president of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Where is Eastern Mediterranean? Eastern Mediterranean is a meeting point between Southeast Europe, Western Asia and Northeast Africa. Sometimes considered as the cradle of humanity, it is now composed of several countries: Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and Libya. The region has been a crossroads for cultural, economic and political exchanges over millennia. Nevertheless, the geopolitical situation made this maritime region a flashpoint based on maritime issues and the disrespect of international law, agreement and convention. A transit route for migrants and refugees The civil war in Syria, started in 2011, has been a major change for countries relationships. The flow of refugees, crossing Turkey to Greece through the Aegean Sea led to a European Union (EU)-Turkey joint action plan in 2015. The agreement was that every person arriving irregularly to the Greek Islands would be returned to Turkey. In exchange, EU would take one Syrian refugee from Turkey for every Syrian returned from Greece. However, it became for the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan a way to conduct a hybrid warfare against EU. Turkish government threated several times the Member States to “open the gates” to migrants into Europe in case of disagreement (such as what is now observed in Belarus). With the return of Talibans in Afghanistan, it is expected to have an increase of refugees trying to cross the sea through the Aegan route but also from Syria or Lebanon to Cyprus. The last route is getting more and more used, especially because of the strong economic and social crisis hitting Lebanon after the dramatic explosion in the port in Beirut in 2020. Oil and gas dispute In the early 1970s, exploration discovered oil and gas fields in south of Cyprus. But the invasion of the island by Turkey in 1974 froze the possibility of exploitation. Then, two large natural gas fields were discovered in the region: Leviathan in 2010 in Israel Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ) and Zohr in 2015 in Egypt EEZ. In 2018, tensions increased between Cyprus and Turkey when the Turkish foreign minister announced the intention to carry out gas exploration in Cyprus EEZ. Turkey sent several times exploration ship, such as RV Oruc reis, escorted by frigates creating huge concerns for EU, which Cyprus is a member States. In reaction, the European Council decided to suspend several negotiations. Egypt, which had an agreement with Cyprus to exploit some of its gas fields, reduced also its relations with Turkey. Arms trafficking from Turkey The last factor of destabilization in Easter Mediterranean is the arm trafficking from Turkey to Libya. Libya faced a civil war since 2011 and the United Nations Security Council voted the Resolution 1973 to impose an arms embargo over the country. To enforce this resolution, mainly ineffective, the European Union launch in March 2020 the operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI, using aerial, satellite and maritime assets. In that framework, the EU linked the merchant vessel Cirkin, now re-named Guzel, to transport military material to Libya between May and June 2020. According to the press agency Reuters, the ship was escorted by three Turkish vessels, preventing all cargo inspection. In September 2020, EU imposed sanctions on the Turkish shipping company Avrasya Shipping accused of breaking the U.N. embargo on Libya. The president Erdogan never recognised to conduct this kind of operation. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
October 8, 2021Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / NewsIllegal fishing in pacific Ocean Illegal fishing in pacific Ocean is a major challenge for South American countries. The decrease of natural resources and the difficulties to control the area call for an international cooperation in order to preserve a future sustainable for local population. Nothing new for the region The western coast of South America is one of the biggest fish reserve in the world. Galapagos islands, located 900 km west of continental Ecuador, are an archipelago of volcanic islands well known for their large number of endemic species. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which deserves to be protected. Unfortunately, the entire region ecosystem is threatened by the increasing seafood demand and foreign fishing fleet coming from asia. But this trend is not new. An article from borgenmagazine reported that between July and August 2020 “a fleet of nearly 300 Chinese vessels logged more than 73,000 hours of fishing efforts just outside of Ecuador’s exclusive economic zone”. South American initiative to stop the collapse in fish stocks Facing that problem, Ecuador tried to prohibit the use of transhipment. This activity is a logistic process where fishing vessels meet refrigerated cargo to transfer seafood, fuel or supplies. It gives a serious advantage to the Chinese fleet to stay longer at sea. Ecuador is not the only concern. Chile and Peru are also monitoring those activities. According to brinknews, Chile’National Fishing and Aquaculture Service reported “illegal fishing causes $397 million in loses every year and has asserted that 70% of that country’s fishing stock has collapsed”. It is why in 2016 and under the Food and Agriculture Organization from the United Nations, 8 countries from Latin America and the Caribbean signed the first global treaty against illegal fishing to bind them against this challenge. What is next? On 4 November 2020, four countries (Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Colombia) issued a joint statement condemning illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. This statement developed information-sharing efforts and led countries to joint action against illegal fishers operating in their Economic Exclusive Zone. Reports were sent to the Permanent Commission to the South Pacific (CPPS), a maritime regulatory organization. Countries called also for a global cooperation. As an example, the French frigate Prairial based in Papeete, French Polynesia, reported to Peru and Chile the presence of 6 Chinese fishing vessels closed to Easter Island while she was transiting for the maritime exercise Unitas in Peru. Eventually, the challenge of illegal fishing in an area where only a few ships are sailing can be faced only through a global agreement between countries and an international cooperation. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
August 12, 2021Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / NewsFarwa island Farwa island is an idyllic area located on the extreme west of the Libyan’s Mediterranean coast. Unfortunately, this wildlife treasure in a civil war country is threatened by a destructive fishing method, lobbing grenades into the water, and a leak of heavy metal from a local industry. This situation is not the only one in the Mediterranean sea, where 8% of the fish species are endangered. Two main causes: destructive fishing and pollution Libya has been ravaged by civil war for a decade, and weapons became common to use, even for fishermen. Locals fish with grenades into the water, a method destroying everything in the blast zone. In this failed state, no the fishing industry is left unregulated and uncontrolled by a lack of law enforcement. Turtles are also victims, caught in the drifting fishing nets. It is also hard for them to reproduce because of the people digging up on the beach for their eggs. The second threat for Farwa is the Abu Kammash petrochemical factory, 2 kilometres south of the island. The industry leaked heavy metals for years and is now abandoned. A perfect situation for an environmental disaster. Wildlife Conservation, a global problem for theWhere is Farwa Island? Farwa is located 40 kilometres of the city port of Zuwara, on the extreme west of the Libyan’s Mediterranean coast. This post-card idyllic island is 13 kilometers long and inhabited, excepted by some occasional lucky tourists. The landscape is composed of date palm tree on white sandy beaches along the deep blue of the Mediterranean waters. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Farwa island might be the “most important coastal and marine site in western Libya, in terms of its high marine and coastal biodiversity”. Many flamingos reside in its salt marshes and lagoon and it is common to see sea turtles in shallow waters. Wildlife Conservation, a global problem for the Mediterranean Sea As explained in a precedent article, the Mediterranean Sea used to be a wonderful ecosystem with more than 7% of global marine fish species, with a total of 519 different species. Unfortunately, maritime pollution, over-stock fishing and a lack of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) led to a degradation of its ecosystem. IUCN reported that 14 species are critically endangered, 13 species are endangered and 15 are vulnerable. Most of them are sharks, rays and sea turtles. Over 8% of Mediterranean fish species are concerned. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
July 28, 2021Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / Newsthreatened fish species The Mediterranean Sea used to be a wonderful ecosystem with more than 7% of global marine fish species, with a total of 519 different species. Unfortunately, maritime pollution, over-stock fishing and a lack of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) led to a degradation of its ecosystem. Over 8% of Mediterranean fish species are concerned. The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species (IUCN) is a membership Union composed of government and civil society. Established in 1984, the organization measures the global extinction risk status of animal, fungus and plant species. IUCN publication about conservation status of the marine fishes of the Mediterranean Sea reported that 14 species are critically endangered: Shark (shortfin mako shark, porbeagle shark, sand tiger shark);Ray (spinny butterfly ray, common skate, sandy skate, maltese skate, white skate);Sawfish (smalltooth sawfish, common sawfish)Angular roughshark;Angelshark (sawback angelshark, smoothback angelshark, common angelshark)Common Goby. Moreover, 13 species are endangered and 15 are vulnerable. It is also important to take in consideration the 22 species near threatened. Fishing industry and coastline population growth Fishing industry remains the main issue to deal with conservation. Stocks are over-exploited due to the increase of the industry and technological progresses. The use of trawling, long lines and driftnets results to by-catch (capture of non-target species). This destruction of marine life represents over 40% of world’s total fish catch. Increased of human population along the coastline has also a negative impact on ecosystem. Often associated with local population, it is a source of pressure on fish nursery and spawning areas, which are mostly located along the littoral. Environmental conservation measures The General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) is a United Nations regional fisheries management organization established in 1949. The GFCM made a decision in 2005 to prevent deep-water fishing operations below 1000m, reducing the potential pressure on vulnerable deep-water species. The organization banned also driftnets in 1997, even if some are still used illegally. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
July 15, 2021Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / Newsgillnet fishing In California, the Environmental Non-Governmental Organisation are greeting the state budget year. This budget will fund commercial fisherman involves in a transition from deadly gillnett a solution which preserves endangered sea turtles. For over 100 million years, turtles have roamed our oceans, with the exception of the Arctic Ocean. Today, six of the seven species of marine turtles are classified as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered. Marine turtles are locally protected or under restoration plans, but pollution, poaching and fishing gear, such as gillnet remain the main causes of the decline of the small population. Nevertheless, protection of sea turtles made significant progresses in recent decades in many parts of the world. As an example, resorts and hotels in Florida and Hawaï took action by reducing beach lighting to avoid turtles to get disorientated. In Mexico, the use of systems to allow turtles to escape from fishing nets saved Kemp’s ridley local population and loggerheads in the Atlantic. Some fishing fleets even employ observers to document turtle interactions. Recently the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, in his 2021-2022 fiscal year budgets has allocated $1.3 million to take gillnet out of the water. The aim is to provide a substantial compensation ($110 000) for each fisherman returning gill nets. Under state law, the Governor hopes that the entire fleet of California gill net will be phased out by 2024, and replaced by a type of fishing called “deep-set buoy gear,” much more selective. This technique is especially used to target sword fishes or tuna. It uses a hook-and-buoy, which hooks depth can be set in order to catch only the desire specie. A study by the Secretariat of the Pacific Environment Programme (SPREP) shows that depth setting appears to be the most important factor to avoid by-catch, much more efficient that the type of the bait used. The number of turtle by-catches in shallow water is ten times greater than catches on longlines set in deep water: if turtles may still get caught in deep water, the main danger remains the shallowest hooks. Nevertheless, this program to change fishing method is not unanimously supported by Californian fishermen: some believe that deep-sed buoy gear will not provide enough catches to be financially viable. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
June 16, 2021Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / NewsOn January 19th,2021, the Government of Vanuatu reported the apprehension of two Chinese trawlers off the island of Hiu on suspicion of illegal activities. This is not an isolated act. In fact, lots of chinese fisherman threatening the maritime sovereignty of coastal states were reported, particularly in the Pacific Ocean. Chinese fishermen cause concern near the Galapagos Islands In 2019, NGOs and Galapagos inhabitants had already alerted the government about the presence of Chinese fishermen in the area.In the summer of 2020, more than 300 vessels have been identified in the vicinity of the Galapagos Nature Reserve. Even if this is not theoretically forbidden, it raises a lot of concern. According to the former mayor of Quito Roque Sevilla, “the uncontrolled Chinese fishermen right on the edge of the protected area is ruining Ecuador’s efforts to protect Galapagos marine life.” This threatens the environment and the sustainable use of the Pacific Ocean’s fisheries resources. For Defence Minister Oswaldo Jarrin, the concern is that this Chinese fleet could penetrate or infiltrate the Ecuadorian EEZ, hence the importance of asserting Ecuadorian sovereignty over its maritime territory. France, a key player in the Pacific France, which has a special place as a Pacific nation, has made the protection of its maritime territory a priority. Indeed, it is striving to maintain its position in the global competition for maritime sovereignty. To defend its interests in the Pacific, France maintains permanent defence forces with the presence of 2900 military personnel, 7 ships and 16 aircrafts. These forces ensure the protection and security of French territories and the control of EEZs. They participate in different activities like rescue operations and fight against trafficking. But France must still be able to intervene everywhere in its EEZs and to control them. It must be sufficiently dissuasive to prevent possible territorial claims or illegal behaviour. Chinese fishing is (almost) pervasive in the Pacific The map of the Global Fishing website shared on Twitter in 2017 shows that the deterrence of illegal fishing in waters under French sovereignty works. Picture Map Global Fishing: Movements and activities of the Chinese fishing fleets from May 2017 to October 2017 Of all the independent states in the South Pacific that are having their fish resources plundered by Chinese fishermen, only the waters of French Polynesia and New Caledonia are spared. This is the challenge entrusted to the French Navy, whose mission is to control a territory of over 7 million km². Recognised as one of the most efficient navies in the world, it must counter the ambitions of new maritime players, including China. The Middle Kingdom has the largest fishing fleet in the world with 17,000 vessels, according to a study led by the London-based Overseas Development Institute (ODI) French Pacific Exclusive Economic Zone Within the Polynesian area, France has established partnerships with autonomous Pacific countries. The country offers its assistance in rescue missions and in the fight against pollution and illegal fishing, in particular by radar and satellite means. However, if France one day struggles to exercise its sovereignty over its own territory, it is very likely that these countries, for their security and development, might later fall into the lap of other powers. Indeed, beyond the fisheries resources, the wealth of maritime territories is not only on the surface. 10% of the planet’s ‘rare earth’ resources are found in the soil of the oceans. It should be remembered that these resources, which are sometimes found more than 5,000 metres underwater, are necessary for lots of modern industries. Even though until now their exploitation has been too costly to be profitable, the scarcity of resources on the continents makes them increasingly interesting. Thus, the sale of exploration and exploitation permits is certainly the challenge of tomorrow. For the moment, the weakness of the means committed to maintaining French sovereignty in the Pacific and more widely across the globe is compensated by organizational excellence. In fact, France can rely on its Joint Maritime Centres. These centres pool all the resources present in the Pacific EEZs. They bring together the French Navy, the Air Force, the gendarmerie, the police and customs forces as well as maritime affairs and civil security resources. Therefore, in order to face the major security challenges in the region, France wishes to contribute to the establishment of a regional security architecture. Already active in several fora for multilateral dialogue in the Pacific, it has in particular initiated a process of rapprochement with the ASEAN Defence Minister’s Meeting (ADMM+). This is a forum for multinational cooperation between the defence ministries of ASEAN and partner countries whose mission is to ensure development and stability in the region. It should be stated that this stability is necessary to defend, otherwise there will be a general weakening of the law of the sea and thus an increase in inter-state tensions. By carrying out cooperative actions with 18 partners during the latest deployment of the Naval Air Group (NAG) in the framework of the Clémenceau 21 mission, France is bringing its experience to the countries of the region. It also applies its operational know-how, particularly in the field of maritime security. In this way, it contributes to the creation of an area of peace and security based on respect for international law throughout the Pacific. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
June 8, 2021Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / NewsFishing in the EEZ In 2020, no offences related to illegal fishing in the French Polynesia EEZ were reported. This can be seen in as a huge success in monitoring fisheries in this area. 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. Like this:Like Loading... [...]
June 1, 2021Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / NewsThe end of the electric pulse fishing method, with one month to go and is living its last days. This fishing method will soon be completely banned from European Union fishing vessels in all waters they frequent, including outside the EU. Electrical fishing method is extremely controversial and has been criticised by some environmental groups as the Bloom NGO. The NGO has been at the forefront of the campaign against this practice. Why is it so controversial? The technique involves sending electrical impulses from a boat into the sediment to capture hidden fish. (such as sole, plaice or Common dab). This method avoids ploughing the seabed. However, it is seen to be extremely destructive to marine fauna, particularly by destroying eggs and larvae. Since 2007, each EU Member State can convert a maximum of 5% of its beam trawl fleet to electric fishing in the southern North Sea. On July 25th, 2019, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU adopted new rules on the conservation of fisheries resources and the protection of marine ecosystems. Lots of destructive fishing gears or methods that use explosives, poison, soporific substances, electric current, percussion instruments, dredging devices and grabs to harvest red or other types of coral have been banned. However, the use of electric pulse trawls will remain possible for a transitional period until 30 June 2021. On August 14th, 2019, France had banned the use of electric trawls in the waters of the North Sea and other waters under French sovereignty. Anticipating thereby of the EU Council’s decision. On October 4th, 2019, the Netherlands brought an action before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to annul the provisions of this regulation concerning fishing vessels using pulsed electric current. On April 15th, this year, the CJEU rejected the Dutch appeal against the ban on fishing with vessels using pulsed electric current. N°59/2021 : 15 April 2021 Judgment of the Court of Justice in case C-733/19 Netherlands v. Council and Parliament The decision was a big victory for the environment and marine biodiversity Like this:Like Loading... [...]
April 6, 2021Drug Trafficking / Illegal Exploitation Of Natural Ressources / News / Smuggling Of Illicit GoodsThe smuggling of illicit goods, in particular fish the Totoaba that is as lucrative and much less dangerous in terms of penal sanction than the traffic of cocaine. In 2018, according to an article published in The Guardian, the Mexico City police found 416 swim bladders in the suitcases of a Chinese tourist. The man was arrested and later released after paying a $600 fine. The Totoaba is a protected endemic species. While scientists believe it to be a cultural fantasy, Chinese medicine believes it to have various medicinal and cosmetic properties, allegedly due to the protein contained in the fish’s swim bladder. According to a study made by ADM Capital Foundation, a philanthropic group, three quarters of sales of products from endangered wildlife are destined for the traditional Chinese medicine industry. Because of this Chinese market, the Totoaba is on the verge of extinction, with only a few specimens left in the waters of the Gulf of California. It is this scarcity that is driving up prices, to the point of calling it the cocaine of the seas as sales prices soar from $20,000 to $80,000 per kg. In its downfall, the Totoaba is bringing with it the disappearance of the smallest harbour porpoise, also known as the little cow of the Pacific Vaquitas. In fact, this could be seen as collateral damage, taking into account the entrapment in the illegal fishing nets used by Totoaba fishermen in the Sea of Cortes. Factfile on the Totoaba and Vaquitas The international community and important personalities such as Leonardo Dicaprio are standing up to try to save what can still be saved, even if today the hope of avoiding the extinction of these two species seems very complicated. In July 2020, the release of the film “Sea of Shadows” directed by Richard Ladkani, highlights the war waged by environmental activists alongside the Mexican Navy against the Mexican cartels and the Chinese mafia. Finally, If this decline continues, it is likely to be extinguished in 2021. Like this:Like Loading... [...]