Global Fishing Watch uses data and open technologies to help save the oceans by showing, for free, exactly where all of the trackable commercial fishing activity has happened since 2012 and is happening today in near-real time. The Consortium for Ocean Leadership’s President and CEO RADM Jonathan White (Ret.) wrote a guest blog series – read part one below, and read part two here.
(From GlobalFishingWatch/ by Jon White) — Out of sight – out of mind. If you don’t see the ocean outside your window every day, it’s easy to forget how much we depend on it – from the oxygen we breathe (every other breath can be attributed to photosynthetic activity by marine phytoplankton) and the food we eat (or the food the food we eat eats – even cows are fed fish byproducts), to daily weather forecasts and medical advancements (such as blood pressure medication). We owe the life we live here on Earth today, and hopefully will live tomorrow, to the ocean. And it is not just for the everyday basics, like oxygen.
Our national, economic, and food security depend on the ocean, and all three of these parts of “ocean security” are threatened by rampant illegal activity that may well jeopardize the interrelated future of our ocean and ourselves.
It’s not often that actions in the far corners of the globe directly affect our nation’s stability, but when they do, it is usually high profile events, such as the threat of nuclear warfare, terrorism, and drug and human trafficking. But there is an illegal activity intricately connected to terrorism and trafficking, and not acting to address it immediately risks our nation’s stability and that of our allies around the globe. Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing (“pirate fishing”) is a threat whose consequences are not fully understood or appreciated by many.
Those familiar with Global Fishing Watch know that when I talk about IUU fishing, I’m talking about violating international laws, agreements, or treaties to illegally catch fish. This can occur in many forms – fishing by foreign ships in another country’s waters, making false reports, using prohibited gear, taking protected species, fishing in closed-off areas or in off-seasons, and more. It’s evident to most that this is a significant sustainability issue, but it is perhaps less clear how it shakes the very pillars of national, economic, and food security worldwide.
So how does what happens on a 17 (or 150+) foot fishing boat on the other side of the world affect our national security? As I said before, IUU fishing doesn’t occur in a vacuum but is instead part of a complex web of transnational criminal activities. IUU fishing vessels help facilitate other illegal actions, such as human, drug, and arms trafficking and smuggling. Trafficking and smuggling are lucrative businesses…