Problems Abound With At-Sea Transfer of Fish in Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans

PEW Charitable Trusts

Transshipment, a vital but largely hidden part of the global commercial fishing industry, involves hundreds of refrigerated ships roaming the ocean, taking in catch from thousands of fishing vessels and transporting it for processing. Because most transshipments take place far out at sea – out of the sight of authorities – unscrupulous operators can hide or falsify data on where, how and when they fished and on the amount and type of fish they caught or transshipped.

On the high seas, transshipment is overseen by regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs), which also set rules governing catch of more than 130 marine species.

To help RFMOs gain perspective and better understand the dynamics behind these processes, The Pew Charitable Trusts commissioned a series of studies that examine transshipment in the western central Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. These reports identify the key countries and companies involved in transshipments and analyze their activities to determine what reforms are needed to ensure the legal and verifiable transfer of catch. The reports all found worrisome trends in transshipment, a huge opportunity for illegally caught fish to enter the market and an urgent need for reform.

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