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June 3, 2019

Any Port in a Storm: Vessel Activity and the Risk of IUU-Caught Fish Passing through the World’s Most Important Fishing Ports

Publisher: Journal of Ocean and Coastal Economics

Funder: Pew Charitable Trusts

Authors: Bradley Soule, Charles Kilgour, Gilles Hosch, Max Schofield, Tim Huntington, Trevor Thomas

Language: English

This study assesses the risk of fish from illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) sources passing through the world's most important fishing ports and explores the drivers of this risk.

Like previous studies it has attempted to rank ports and States based on landings and vessel visits reported by governments by using Automatic Identification System (AIS) positional data transmitted by fishing and fish carrier vessels to identify the locations of ports and rank them based on the frequency of visits by foreignflagged and domestic-flagged vessels. It advances our thinking in that (i) the analysis includes an estimation of the hold capacity of fishing vessels and is therefore able to rank ports based on the total hold capacity of vessels visiting them and (ii) the profile and the frequency of vessel visits inform an assessment of the relative risks between different ports, and the implications for the implementation of the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA). The study also assesses the accuracy and utility of AIS-derived data for determining IUU risk globally for all ports, notably by cross-referencing its findings with those of other studies.

The study develops a broad suite of indicators that quantify and aggregate the AIS-derived port visit information in conjunction with published and publicly available policy and regulatory information drawn from other sources, such as the compliance record with binding port State measures of regional fisheries management organizations, to raise a global port State IUU Risk Index. The comparison of achieved risk scores with national income, levels of corruption, and geography provides insights into factors driving (aggravating) or modulating (mitigating) risks of IUU-caught seafood passing through a Nation's fishing ports, and supports a view that States with weaker governance also face higher odds of visits by vessels likely to have engaged in IUU fishing (i.e. higher external risks).

Based on an in-depth assessment of 14 individual ports globally, appended as a supplement to this paper, the study finds that overall, and with the possible exception of mandatory advance request procedures for entering ports, the implementation of key provisions of the 2009 PSMA remains severely lacking. The two main areas for improvement are the posting of publicly available PSM-related information on national and/or FAO portals, and the formal designation of ports.