Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing has, along with the current pandemic, are doubling down on the hardships being faced by fishermen in this day and age. While the strict food regulations laid down in the wake of COVID-19 are certainly a point of frustration, they can be deemed necessary for the meanwhile.
However, many other illegal activities impede good fishers looking to make an honest living. These fishermen who operate outside of the established regulations only serve to harm the industry and the ecosystem that provides much of the seafood we consume daily.
Fishermen who do not adhere to the law are nothing more than pirates, staying at sea for prolonged periods of time and endangering other sailors. More importantly, they are negatively impacting the natural resources that are otherwise used fairly by descent fishers.
International fishers have seen a large decrease in their sales due to COVID-19, and illegal fishers only serve to make things worse. Recently, new directives have been placed into effect to promote the creation and use of local fisheries. Coupled with this initiative is a renewed interest in fighting against IUU fishing.
In many instances, fishers and vessels that are prone to illegal activities share similar traits and behaviors. Ships that look to circumvent certain types of radar tracking, for instance, may be linked to previous illegal activities. Knowing what to look for in IUU fishing and, more importantly, how to stop these behaviors is extremely important in preserving the seas and oceans as well as protecting legitimate fishermen.
Accurately identifying shady activities, like boats avoiding certain ports due to their penchant for following regulation, should help organizations looking to bolster fishers who legally provide while spotlighting and apprehending those who break the rules.
How can the situation for fishers improve? Through the creation of tougher laws and better practices, the life and livelihood of a fisher can be made much simpler to understand and thrive off of. New technologies are also allowing us to better identify and track potentially dangerous vessels. Protecting honest fishermen is beneficial to both the provider and consumer. After all, the fishing industry in just the United States brings in over $200 million every year provides close to 2 million jobs. It always serves to put consumers at ease when they know where their food comes from. By cracking down on illegal fishers and uping laws overall, we can ensure that local, legitimate fishers have a fair chance at hooking more business.