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Peter Thomson, who is leading the United Nations’ "Goal 14" initiative for sustainable use of the oceans and marine resources, met with Chilean president Sebastian Pinera and other key policymakers to back the South American country's leadership in combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
Thomson’s visit coincided with a meeting of representatives of the Pacific Alliance, which includes Chile, Peru, Colombia and Mexico, to discuss IUU issues. The four Latin American countries represent most of Latin America’s western seaboard. Chile is also key in this alliance because it has pushed for neighboring countries to allow no ports of refuge for IUU vessels.
Two key components in the UN’s Goal 14 initiative are to eradicate IUU by 2020 and also convince governments to cut subsidies that have contributed to overcapacity of vessels and overfishing in the Pacific Ocean. Thomson discussed both topics in a series of meetings in Santiago with Pinera and Pacific Alliance representatives.
“If we want to start combating illegal fishing in the Pacific, the place is Chile,” Thomson told reporters in Santiago Wednesday.
Chile as host of the UN Climate Change Summit 2019 in December this year will highlight the importance of protecting oceans, Thomson said. The country also forms part of a so-called high-level panel for the sustainable ocean economy, an initiative formed by Australia, Canada, Fiji, Ghana, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya and Mexico.
Chile is also one of the first countries to make vessel tracking data publicly available through the Global Fishing Watch (GFW) map, which tracks the movements of global fishing vessels in real-time. Indonesia was the first nation to subscribe to the GFW map in 2017 and Costa Rica, Panama and Namibia have since said they would join the platform.
IUU is still rampant worldwide. IUU fishing accounts for about 26 million metric tons of seafood catch annually, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts. A significant amount of the world’s overfishing occurs in the Pacific Ocean.
The problem could be alleviated by countries that register vessels, often known as flag states, by stepping up the monitoring of their activity overseas, according to Pew illegal fishing expert Mark Young. Fishing companies often chose to flag their ships to countries that have lax regulations and deficient enforcement of global fishing standards, it said.
Thomson said that IUU can be challenged by nations cooperating together and sharing resources to identify illegal operators. Innovation can also help IUU activity, he said.
Chile has a key role in pushing the agenda for IUU at this year’s annual meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), which will be held in Santiago. The best outcome of the APEC meeting would be for its leaders to agree on stopping illegal fishing activity in the Pacific Ocean, Thomson said.
Thomson also commended Argentina and Chile for signing a treaty that leaves at least 10% of their coastal territorial claim of Antarctica as a protected marine environment.
SOURCE: UNDERCURRENT NEWS/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
Who & What is PINA?
International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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