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27 September 2017

INTERPOL meeting targets fisheries crime through international response

VIENNA, Austria – Shaping innovative enforcement activities against transnational organized crime in the fisheries sector is high on the agenda of the 6th meeting of the INTERPOL Fisheries Crime Working Group (FCWG).

Co-organized with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the three-day (27 – 29 September) event brings together fisheries directors, heads of police and fisheries compliance units, customs officers, heads of customs and tax investigation, senior investigators, prosecutors and other law enforcement officers specializing in fisheries crime. 

More than 100 participants from some 50 countries and five Intergovernmental Organizations will review compliance issues, information collection plans, operational planning tools and real-life case studies.

Amongst these, INTERPOL’s Project Scale has secured the attendance of participants from 32 developing countries as part of its capacity building, information exchange and operational assistance programme to enhance the policing capabilities of developing countries to combat fisheries crime.

Disproportionate effects occur in developing countries and impact food supplies in coastal communities. Economic losses due to the theft of marine resources, tax and customs frauds further deprive treasuries of the long term sustainable benefits of improved resource management.

Through INTERPOL’s Project Scale, an initiative which supports member countries to identify, deter and disrupt transnational fisheries crime, the FCWG provides critical support mechanisms for establishing cooperation between INTERPOL member countries against the transnational criminal risk factors often associated with Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.

“The INTERPOL Fisheries Crime Working Group is providing an important international platform for member countries to discuss and initiate projects together to combat transnational fisheries crimes and associated crimes. They are also gaining a greater understanding of the role played by INTERPOL’s global policing capabilities to address fisheries crime,” said Daoming Zhang, Assistant Director of INTERPOL’s Illicit Markets sub-directorate.

To this end, the FCWG is helping support the development of high impact, innovative solutions to global problems in the fisheries sector tied to corruption, forced labour, illicit foods, the smuggling of protected species, the destruction of vital ecosystems, and harm to marine tourism.

In this respect, participants at the INTERPOL FCWG meeting heard that estimates of annual losses of between USD 10 and 23 billion to the global economy as a result of IUU fishing do not take account of the collateral economic and social impacts of the organized criminal business models.

The meeting was preceded by the UNODC Third International Symposium on Fisheries Crime (FishCRIME 2017) held from 25 to 26 September and co-organized by INTERPOL, the Government of Indonesia, the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, the Nordic Council of Ministers, the North-Atlantic Fisheries Intelligence Group and the PescaDOLUS Network.

This high-level meeting has helped generate the global awareness and political will to get behind the tactical and operational efforts of the fisheries crime enforcement community represented at the FCWG.