A new study published in Science , led by Stefan Flothmann of the Pew Environment Group, demonstates how hard stopping illegal fishing on the world's oceans can be. Illegall fishing, which accounts for anything from 11 to 26 million tons of fish a year, or about one-fifth of the reported legal catch, cannot easily be brought under control.

Flothman and his colleagues , from an examination of data on port visits by boats between 2004 and 2009 that had been listed as possibly involved in illegal fishing and that had been targeted for sanctions, found ports' records were in woeful shape, tracking the movement of only one-third of those boats during the six-year research period. It appeared that the vessels frequently changed their names to elude regulators, and even if they were caught, port states enacted sanctions only about one out of every four times. On those occasions that ports in one region did crack down in any systematic way, the boats just moved to another region — a phenomenon known as leakage. Tracking ships involved in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing — or IUU fishing — is difficult because there is no centralized list of vessels that flout fisheries regulations.

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TAGS: illegal fishing, rogue vessels, cheating, sanctions, vessel tracking, port states, IUU fishing, fisheries, sustainable, enforcement

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