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Organised Crime in the Fisheries Sector

Presenting the current state of knowledge on organised crime in the fisheries sector in the context of pursuing a sustainable ocean economy.

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Criminal activity in the fisheries sector, which has concerned the international community for years, has become increasingly organised. Frequently transnational, such crime can manifest in a broad range of offences, the most common being economic crimes such as money laundering, fraud, forgery, tax and customs evasion, corruption and human trafficking. Anecdotal, scientific and case-based evidence of the multitude of manifestations of organised crime in fisheries; its widespread adverse impacts on economies, societies and the environment globally; and its international security implications is now publicly available.

This paper draws on this evidence, presenting the current state of knowledge on organised crime in the fisheries sector in the context of pursuing a sustainable ocean economy. The paper presents practical recommendations for worldwide best practices to address organised crime in fisheries, emphasising the need for a shared understanding of the problem and the implementation of intelligence-led, skills-based cooperative law enforcement at a global level, facilitated by enabling legislative frameworks and increased transparency.

‘Organised Crime in the Fisheries Sector’ was launched via a webinar ‘The Shadow Blue Economy: Tackling Organised Crime in Fisheries‘ on 18 August 2020. The webinar was moderated by Siri Bjun, Deputy Head of the Global Maritime Crime Programme, UN Office on Drugs and Crime and featured opening remarks from Norway’s Minister of Fisheries and Seafood Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen, alongside authors Emma Witbooi, Kamal-Deen Ali, Mas Achmad Santosa, and Sarika Maharaj. Mi Zhou of the International Labour Organisation and Gunnar Stølsvik, Specialist Director, Norway Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, also joined the panel discussion.

Blue Paper author Emma Witbooi published the WRI blog post, ‘The Impact of Organised Crime in Fisheries Extends Far Beyond the Ocean’.

Nature also published an adapted version of this Blue Paper ‘Organised crime in the fisheries sector threatens a sustainable ocean economy’.

The lead authors of this paper are Emma Witbooi, Kamal-Deen Ali and Mas Achmad Santosa. Contributing authors include Gail Hurley, Yunus Husein, Sarika Maharaj, Ifesinachi Okafor-Yarwood, Inés Arroyo Quiroz and Omar Salas.

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