AIS Satellite used for tracking fishing vessels. (Photo: IMO/WWF-Navama/FIS)
WWF proposes cheap and effective method to curb IUU fishing
Thursday, September 27, 2012, 01:00 (GMT + 9)
A new and inexpensive method to use satellite data to monitor global fisheries activities and curb illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing has been presented by the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Smart Fishing Initiative.
Using the “Automatic Identification System” (AIS) introduced by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in December 2000 for safety reasons, WWF shows how AIS data will simply and effectively let governments and Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) retrace the routes and fishing activities of vessels worldwide, improving sustainable fisheries management by revealing where IUU activity could be occurring.
Via satellite, AIS supplies data for identifying a ship: name, size, position and other details are transmitted and even the speed of a vessel can be determined.
“We found that the satellite AIS, an internationally recognized standard, is a reliable supplier of data to improve transparency in all fishing practices taking place in national waters and on the high seas. It´s a great tool that can help governments and RFMOs to monitor and implement fisheries regulations,” said Alfred Schumm, leader of WWF´s Smart Fishing Initiative.
“Governments all over the world should make this system mandatory for every commercial fishing vessel. At the moment, the IMO only requires mandatory installation of the AIS system for ships over 300 tonnes, but not for fishing vessels,” he declared.
WWF is urging the European Union (EU), national governments, RFMOs and States flagging fishing vessels operating on the high seas to adopt mandatory installation of the AIS system on all fishing vessels under their flag as soon as possible, in addition to monitoring and control (M&C) measures currently being used, such as Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMSs).
“To bring about credible changes that will enhance sustainable fisheries practices, governments need to ensure their rules are complied with, hence all fishing vessels should have installed the AIS system at once and keep it in operation day and night,” commented Schumm.
AIS was introduced as a mandatory standard of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in December 2000 and now nearly every ship (but not fishing vessels) is equipped with this technology for its own safety.
AIS technology, which can be established easily and cheaply as an international standard for transparent fishing practices, is applicable and operational across the globe.
Ships that previously escaped identification, for example via means of false data, will no longer be anonymous and sustainable management will become the rule.
By Natalia Real