The Safe Ocean Network, an initiative U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry first announced at the second Our Ocean Conference in 2015, seeks to build a global community to strengthen all aspects of the fight against illegal fishing including detection, enforcement, and prosecution.
Illegal fishing is a worldwide problem estimated to cost the global fishing industry billions, possibly tens of billions, of dollars a year. It undermines sustainable fisheries management and degrades global environmental, food, and economic security. Organizations and individuals engaged in illegal fishing may be involved in other illicit activity and transnational crime ranging from human rights abuses and tax evasion to weapons and drug trafficking.
The Safe Ocean Network is focused on increasing collaboration between countries and organizations combating illegal fishing around the world. Sharing knowledge and technology is vital to understanding what resources are committed and preventing duplication of efforts in the global fight against illegal fishing. Sharing information and data is essential to catch illegal fishers as they move from the waters of one country to another and over the high seas, transfer fish between boats, and offload illegally caught fish around the world.
The world agreed as part of the Sustainable Development Goals to a target of ending overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing by 2020. Ultimately, the Safe Ocean Network will contribute to achieving this goal.
The Safe Ocean Network has brought together 45 governments and organizations to share knowledge and better coordinate to combat illegal fishing around the world. More than 40 counter illegal fishing projects worth over $82 million are affiliated with the Safe Ocean Network. Partners include: Australia, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Cabo Verde, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, the European Union, France, Gabon, Ghana, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, Panama, Portugal, Senegal, Seychelles, Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Vanuatu, the Center for Advanced Defense Studies, the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, the Environmental Law Institute, the International Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Network, the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation, INTERPOL, mFish, Monterey Bay Aquarium, National Geographic Society, Oceana, Oceans 5, Pew Charitable Trusts, Secure Fisheries, Skytruth, the Stimson Center, UN Office on Drugs and Crime, UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Vulcan, and World Wildlife Fund. More information about Safe Ocean Network projects can be found below.
- Oceana, SkyTruth and Google are partnering to make Global Fishing Watch — a big data technology platform that leverages satellite data to create the first global view of commercial fishing — available to the public for free. A number of organizations announced support for Global Fishing Watch, including $6million from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.
- Paul Allen’s Vulcan announced $3.7 million to develop a satellite image analysis system to aid the detection of illegal fishing activity. The program will provide the enforcement community with greater insight into vessels that may be engaging in illegal fishing.
- The Pew Charitable Trusts and Satellite Applications Catapult will continue to support Project Eyes on the Seas, a technology platform that combines satellite monitoring and imagery data with other information such as fishing vessel databases and oceanographic data, to help authorities detect suspicious fishing activity. The system can synthesize and analyze multiple layers of data in near real time to monitor and identify suspicious vessels around the globe and alert authorities to investigate and take action.
- The International Monitoring, Control, and Surveillance Network is developing a centralized data base of vetted qualified monitoring, control, and surveillance (MCS) experts available to national authorities and international institutions for consultancy and capacity-building projects in the field of fisheries MCS.
- The World Wildlife Fund announced DETECT IT: Fish, a web-based tool, which uses big data analytics to identify, compare, and analyze trade discrepancies and irregularities in global fish trade data to help discover and investigate IUU activities. DETECT IT: Fish holds the potential to reduce IUU by 50% by 2020, when utilized with other effective tools and policies. DETECT IT: Fish was one of the winners in the 2016 Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s competition, Living Progress Challenge.
- The Stimson Center and Pristine Seas – National Geographic announced the launched of their new website “Secure Our Oceans” at secureoceans.org which for the first time provides policy makers with a comprehensive and neutral catalogue of technologies that can be used to combat illegal fishing and aims to match countries needs with detection and enforcement technology products.
- INTERPOL’s Project SCALE supports international investigations and the prosecution of criminals involved in illegal fishing and associated crime. This is done through cooperation between clusters of law enforcement agencies from various jurisdictions, as well as by collaborating with international partners. Project SCALE has created coherent international law enforcement connectivity for meaningful collaboration, planning and direction towards achieving professional investigative responses worldwide. The project’s focus on illegal fishing activities and associated criminality, including fraud, avoidance of taxes, handling of stolen goods, corruption, money laundering, document falsification, and human trafficking, etc., have enabled a holistic analysis and approach in tackling criminal supply chains.
- The Environmental Law Institute and National Geographic announced $86,000 for a Model Fisheries Law project to identify regulatory approaches that nations can take to develop or enhance their legal frameworks to provide effective authority for Marine Protected Area (MPA) enforcement and compliance.
- The NGO Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS), in partnership with the private firm Windward, is working to map and investigate the beneficial ownership, logistical, and financial networks of IUU vessels and their associated companies using advanced data analytics developed for the national security community.
- The United Kingdom announced the establishment of Ocean Innovation Hubs in the UK Overseas Territories that have Marine Protected Areas. Building on the collaborative approach the UK and US are taking in the British Indian Ocean Territory, we will enable countries to work together to test new approaches to combating illegal fishing.
- The FISH-i Africa Task Force enables authorities to identify and act against large-scale illegal fishing. The aim is to build a robust and effective mechanism to catalyze enforcement actions and secure an end to illegal fishing in the Western Indian Ocean. The Task Force countries of Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Somalia and the United Republic of Tanzania form the core of FISH-i Africa. The coordinating team is led by Stop Illegal Fishing, supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts and advised by Nordenfeldske Development Services, Trygg Mat Tracking, the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, the Indian Ocean Commission, and other experts.
- The European Union announced a $470,000 modernization project to update the European Fisheries Control Agency application to provide EU Member States the ability for worldwide vessel tracking, as well as a commitment that EU Naval Forces operating in the Indian Ocean will collect information about fishing activity in Somali waters whenever possible and submit data to the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission to facilitate prosecutions.
- The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation, announced $600,000 over two years to support the use of electronic monitoring, electronic reporting, and a ProActive Vessel Register to enable sustainable fisheries management and market transparency. Efforts are focused in Ghana, Federated States of Micronesia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa and Indonesia, and supported by Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction Tuna Project, World Wildlife Fund, the Global Environment Facility, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.
- The Monterey Bay Aquarium announced $340,000 over the next 2 years in initiatives to address IUU fishing activities in the Asia – Pacific region, including a new partnership with USAID and continued support from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Projects will improve the environmental and social performance of fisheries and aquaculture operations through strengthened traceability, new partnerships and incentives to access to the North American market.
- The mFish initiative will enable small scale and artisanal fishermen with mobile technology services and applications to report illegal fishing activities. Applications and services will initially be available in Indonesia with plans to expand availability to Malaysia then across south, south-east Asia, Africa and Latin America. Reports of illegal fishing activity will be shared with relevant government authorities for follow up.
- New Zealand announced that it will undertake high seas fisheries patrols of the South Pacific Longline Tuna Fishery in 2017. New Zealand will also institute a pilot project to undertake genetic testing of tuna both in New Zealand ports and on high seas fisheries patrols to detect misreporting of fish species that takes place amongst commercial tuna longline vessels operating in the southern albacore fishery.
- Oceans 5, the Smithsonian Institution, Wildlife Conservation Society, and Center for Marine Studies announced a $1.3 million MesoAmerican Reef Initiative to implement electronic licensing, vessel tracking, and catch documentation systems in Belize and Honduras.
- Chile announced the establishment of the Nazca Desventuradas Marine Park around the San Félix and San Ambrosio Islands as a hub for the testing of detection technologies to monitor illegal fishing activity in the park.
- The United States and Canada announced a nine-month pilot project to probe the extent to which certain prohibited fish species are available for sale.
- Italy announced the entry into force of their new legislative framework to regulate swordfish fisheries in the Mediterranean. The new rules – in the framework of the European Common Fishery Policy – significantly reduce the number of Italian vessels authorized to target swordfish; introduce mandatory notification requirements for all vessels; and, forbid possession of certain fishing equipment aboard vessels targeting swordfish in order to prevent the illegal use of such equipment.
- The Netherlands announced $1 million for the development of a device called a “black box” that can be installed on fishing boats to continuously monitor and track vessels and provide opportunities to improve compliance with fisheries regulations.
- Spain announced $7.8 million over four years to maintain and improve an Integrated Control System to ensure sustainable fisheries management by controlling and monitoring vessels, imports of fishery products and individuals and companies associated with the Spanish fishing sector.
- The United States announced $2 million to support a number of Safe Ocean Network projects, including: $900,000 for Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA) Capacity Building in Central and South America; $300,000 for maritime enforcement training in the Pacific, South East Asia and Bay of Bengal to be delivered predominantly by U.S. Coast Guard personnel; $300,000 to the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to support fisheries investigations and prosecutions in the Western Indian Ocean; and $500,000 for a data mining project that would target the known bad actors and develop risk profiles to identify other vessels that may be illegally fishing.
- The United States will continue to support SeaVision, an unclassified, internet-based maritime information sharing and visualization tool that combines vessel location information from the Maritime Safety and Security Information System (MSSIS) as well as commercial data feeds in near-real time
- The United States announced a suite of USAID activities worth an anticipated $55 million over five years to combat illegal fishing and promote sustainable fishing in Indonesia, the Philippines, and West Africa. Activities include: strengthening of law enforcement and fisheries management capacity in Indonesia, including through technical assistance to Indonesia’s National IUU Task Force; enhancing environmental law enforcement, and working with communities to reduce illegal fishing and wildlife trafficking in the Philippines; and capacity building for law enforcement officials in Ghana and the West Africa region.
- The United States announced a set of programs to combat illegal fishing worth $2.9 million over 5 years to support law enforcement training and capacity building in Indonesia, the Philippines and West Africa.
- The United States announced a new suite of programs worth $2.846 million to tackle the root causes of forced labor in the fishing and seafood sector in Indonesia and Thailand.
- The United States announced $143,000 for a coordinated effort by NASA, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Center for Atmospheric Sciences, the Namibian Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, and the North-West University of South Africa to test improved methods of using data from the Suomi-National Polar-orbiting Partnership (S-NPP) satellite for illegal fishing detection. The satellite uses a technology called the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) to identify vessels that may be illegally fishing at night through the use of light detection.
- The United States announced $574,00 over two years to develop a fishing boat detection service for Asia and the Pacific using low light imaging data collected by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), a space based sensor. At the request of fishery agencies, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) supplies near-real time alerts for VIIRS boat detections in 86 marine protected areas in Indonesia and areas closed to commercial fishing in the Philippines. The VIIRS instrument is capable of detecting lights present at the earth’s surface, including from fishing boats that use lights to attract catch at night and may be illegally fishing.
- The Oceania Maritime Security Initiative (OMSI) is a Secretary of Defense program using Department of Defense (DOD) vessels transiting the Western and Central Pacific region to increase the Coast Guard’s maritime domain awareness, ultimately supporting its maritime law enforcement operations in Oceania. Coast Guard law enforcement detachments embark aboard transiting US Navy vessels, joined by local law enforcement authority shipriders, enabling fisheries enforcement boardings.
- The U.S. Coast Guard is pursuing new shiprider agreements with Vanuatu and Fiji and maritime law enforcement training in the Pacific, Bay of Bengal, and the Philippines.
- Beginning in September 2016, the U.S. Maritime Domain Awareness Executive Steering Committee will launch a crowd-sourcing competition in conjunction with the White House’s Open Government initiative, with competitors vying to develop an algorithm capable of assisting countries to better identify and respond to illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing. This Challenge, facilitated by NASA’s Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation and run on the TopCoder platform, is an effort to promote the goals of the Safe Ocean effort.
- The 3rd annual Fishackathon, a weekend coding contest was held on April 22-24, 2016. It included several challenges encouraging the development of tools to assist fishermen and enforcement officers in combating illegal fishing. All entries, including the winning submissions, are available online at Fishackathon.com.
For more information, contact OurOcean2016@state.gov.