The 10th International Forum on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing has taken place at Chatham House, London. In the opening address HE Said Jama, Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Somalia explained the great strides Somalia has made in recent years to protect against illegal fishing, but also noted that Somalia has recently returned to international headlines due to a renewal of illegal fishing, and the first case of piracy since 2012.

“Somalia is again suffering as a result of the illegal fishing that is taking place in our EEZ. We see industrial trawlers high grading, devastating fisheries habitats, and competing with coastal fishermen for resources, at the same time as the World Food Programme, and many donors, are making plans for the import of emergency foods to Somalia to keep alive several million Somali citizens classed by the UN to be in emergency phases of nutrition. The Somali Government is not against industrial fishing, or foreign vessels fishing in our EEZ, but what we need is responsible, answerable vessels, working to international standards in our offshore waters, that can both generate licence income for Somalia and provide food for our people.”

Deputy Minister Jama stressed the value of cooperation and initiatives such as FISH-i Africa that facilitates information exchange, verification of information and provides expert support to its members. “IUU fishing across the world is a multinational business; those of us fighting IUU need to build bridges in the same way. I am hugely grateful to the multiple partners and supporters who are working with Somalia, and who were all needed to halt the IUU activities of the GREKO 1. I hope Somalia continues to build cooperation with more countries, and more partners so we can fight illegal fishing ever more effectively.”

Sessions were held to discuss the next steps for the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA). Stop Illegal Fishing Coordinator Per Erik Bergh addressed the Forum on the implementation of the PSMA, and considered the very real challenges facing developing countries. Commenting on the need for greater coordination between port, flag, coastal and market States Per Erik Bergh stated that “port States cannot act in isolation, the need for inter-agency, regional and international cooperation is now being widely recognised. This recognition brings hope that new information sharing mechanisms may be put in place to enable faster and more effective communication between the actors involved.”

Panel sessions bought together experts to discuss the regulation of the high seas, small scale fisheries, industry and the private sector, geopolitics and the role that technology can play in stopping illegal fishing.

Sandy Davies, Stop Illegal Fishing, commented “it is great to come to a Chatham House Forum and see the joined up thinking that is now in place. Historically, different regions tackled problems in different ways, but now all regions and all viewpoints are recognising common solutions. The need to cooperate and the need to share and cross check information is key to our success in stopping illegal fishing.”

A launch for the new FISH-i Africa publication ‘Illegal Fishing? Evidence and Analysis’ was held at Chatham House on the eve of the forum, with contributions by Sandy Davies, Per Erik Bergh and Mark Ssemakula who showcased the work being done by FISH-i members to stop illegal fishing. The event also featured Deputy Minister Said Jama of Somalia and Elsa Patria, Chair of Stop Illegal Fishing.