COPENHAGEN, Denmark – An INTERPOL meeting has closed with a call to boost investigations and prosecutions into the fisheries sector by strengthening global cooperation and information sharing.
Bringing together 122 experts from 49 countries, INTERPOL’s 7th Fisheries Crime Working Group meeting addressed ways to gather and analyse intelligence on a wide range of fisheries-related crime and how INTERPOL can harmonize national and regional enforcement efforts.
The three-day (17-19 October) event saw expert investigators from a range of law enforcement agencies work with fisheries directors, tax and customs officers, port officers and prosecutors to address fisheries crime law enforcement issues, capacity building, and intelligence-led investigations.
“The presence this week of law enforcement agencies and intergovernmental organizations illustrates the importance of global cooperation in tackling illegal fishing, and illustrates INTERPOL’s central role in combating a crime area which undermines resource conservation and threatens food security worldwide,” said Daoming Zhang, INTERPOL’s Assistant Director in charge of Environmental Security
“Global estimates of annual losses due to Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing doesn’t take into account the collateral economic and social impact, especially in developing countries and coastal communities food supplies,” added Mr Zhang.
As fisheries crime is intrinsically linked to other serious transnational crimes such as corruption, money laundering, fraud, human and drugs trafficking, the meeting included interactive sessions with a table-top exercise, and discussions on ways to build capacity for better operational and enforcement results.
“This week’s meeting has gone a long way in bringing together multiple agencies from countries with very different levels of development who can now move forward together in tackling global fisheries crime from a national and regional perspective,” said William Maingu of the Tanzanian INTERPOL National Central Bureau in Dar Es Salaam.
“With capacity building, information exchange and operational support high on the agenda this week, we are putting the spotlight on the skills we need to identify, prevent and disrupt the transnational crimes and networks associated with fisheries crime,” added Mr Maingu.
Delegates representing the European Commission (Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries), European Fisheries Control Agency, Europol, UN Food and Agriculture Organization and UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) also attended the meeting.
The meeting was preceded by the 4th International Symposium on Fisheries Crime co-organized with the United Nations Development Programme, the UNODC, the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Fisheries, the North Atlantic Fisheries Intelligence Group and the PescaDOLUS Network.