Revealing global risks of labor abuse and illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing

Selig, Elizabeth R. and Nakayama, Shinnosuke and Wabnitz, Colette C. C. and Österblom, Henrik and Spijkers, Jessica and Miller, Nathan A. and Bebbington, Jan and Decker Sparks, Jessica L. (2022) Revealing global risks of labor abuse and illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. Nature Communications, 13 (1). ISSN 2041-1723

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Labor abuse on fishing vessels and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing violate human rights, jeopardize food security, and deprive governments of revenues. We applied a multi-method approach, combining new empirical data with satellite information on fishing activities and vessel characteristics to map risks of labor abuse and IUU fishing, understand their relationships, and identify major drivers. Port risks were globally pervasive and often coupled, with 57% of assessed ports associated with labor abuse or IUU fishing. For trips ending in assessed ports, 82% were linked to labor abuse or IUU fishing risks. At-sea risk areas were primarily driven by fishing vessel flags linked to poor control of corruption by the flag state, high ownership by countries other than the flag state, and Chinese-flagged vessels. Transshipment risk areas were related to the gear type of fishing vessels engaged in potential transshipment and carrier vessel flags. Measures at port offer promise for mitigating risks, through the Port State Measures Agreement for IUU fishing, and ensuring sufficient vessel time at port to detect and respond to labor abuse. Our results highlight the need for coordinated action across actors to avoid risk displacement and make progress towards eliminating these socially, environmentally and economically unsustainable practices.

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Journal Article
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Nature Communications
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14 Apr 2022 10:50
Last Modified:
14 Dec 2022 09:55