PIRATES: An Ancient Problem with a Modern Impact

Yes, we are still dealing with the issue of fish pirates in 2018; but worry not, it is kept under control by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). The CCAMLR is dedicated to conserving Antarctic marine life, and further than that, they have an interest in stopping illegal poaching.

On March 13, an Antarctic and Patagonian Toothfish poaching ship was stopped in waters that were under control of the West African state of Liberia by local coast guards and the NGO Sea Shepherd. This ship, otherwise known as F/V Hai Lung or by its previous name Kily, was sailing free through Liberian waters when it was taken over by a Liberian coast guard team. The ship had operated under a long list of names, including Yele, Ray, Constant, Tropic, and Isla Graciosa, but this infamous vessel has now been black-listed by the CCAMLR and the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission. Due to this, the ship has\ been denied access in Angola and Togo. Last year, it was detained in Nigeria for entering its waters without authorization.

Troublemakers: they’re everywhere.

This is just one instance of illegal fishing – one that shows how persistent the world’s pirates can be. They are almost as sneaky as their big-film cousins (think Captain Jack Sparrow here). While pirates call just about any corner of the world “home,” there are big oceans that need policing, and that’s no easy feat. That’s where the CCAMLR comes in; it was established in response to increasing commercial interest in Antarctic krill resources, a keystone component of the Antarctic ecosystem and a history of over-exploitation of several other marine resources in the Southern Ocean. Yes, the pirate police on the beat. This is exciting stuff! But this time, it’s not on the big screen – it’s taking place in our oceans and it has an immense impact.

Illegal fishing is a problem for a multitude of reasons. Obviously, this poses a challenge for traceability. If the fish is illegally caught, you’re going to have a hard time tracing it back to where it originally came
from. Poaching also puts massive strains on fish stocks, depleting populations rapidly and making it extremely difficult to impose accurate quotas on different fishing regions from year to year. Monitoring poaching ships is also highly difficult and they often come with big human rights issues, with poor working conditions and insanely low wages for fishermen. Clearly, the world needs amazing organizations like CCAMLR to help keep our oceans safe for our seafood, our fishermen, and our ocean environment. They do this by tirelessly monitoring the seas and barring ships from entering illegal fishing areas.

One thing you can take away from this recent pirate incident and help combat illegal poaching? Stay informed about where your seafood is coming from! Speak with your seafood distributor (yeah, us) about where your fish was happily swimming before it was caught. Oftentimes, it can be traced back to the exact ship, fishing location, and captain. Rest assured, we’re doing things the right way. Falling victim to the bad behavior of pirates is easy when you’re uninformed – so don’t be a scallywag or a salty dog!

Know your fish, eat your fish; it’s all part of the growing importance of ocean safety and security.