According to the Indian Navy, as many as 392 reported incidents of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing were monitored in 2021 compared to 379 in 2020 in the Indian Ocean.

 

About the IUU fishing

  • Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing continues to rise beyond Indias Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
  • Chinese fishing vessels, fishing vessels from European Union countries and other countries from outside the region were observed to be fishing in the Indian Ocean.
  • Chinese deep sea trawlers have been a matter of concern for countries in the region, including India, as they are operating far from the Chinese coast and impacting local marine ecology.
  • Most of the illegal activity is found in the Northern Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
  • IUU fishing — IUU fishing depletes fish stocks, destroys marine habitats, puts fishermen at disadvantage and impacts coastal communities, especially in developing countries.

 

About the ‘Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC)’

  • The presence of extra-regional distant water fishing fleets has been monitored by Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC).
  • The Quad, comprising India, Australia, Japan and U.S., in May 2022 announced a major regional regional effort under the ambit of Indo-Pacific Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA).
  • It aims to provide a more accurate maritime picture of “near-real-time” activities in the region.
  • It is expected to catalyse joint efforts of India and other Quad partners towards addressing IUU in Indo-Pacific region.
  • All vessel movements on the high seas are monitored by the Indian Navys IMAC in Gurugram and the Information Fusion Centre-Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) which is co-located with it.
  • IFC-IOR has been collaborating with other regional monitoring centres across the globe to enhance maritime safety and security, including efforts to monitor IUU.

 

Regional fisheries management organisations

  • As per United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), coastal nations are responsible for addressing IUU fishing issues within their respective EEZ.
  • There are regional fisheries management organisations such as the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement operating under the mandate of UNCLOS as regulatory bodies to monitor IUU fishing on the high seas.

 

Global Regulations

  • There are two main regulations globally on IUU fishing:
    • the Cape Town Agreement and
    • the Agreement on Ports State Measures.
  • So far, India is not a signatory of either agreement.

 

Vehicle management systems

  • Fishing vessels across the world are supposed to have vehicle management systems installed which not only identify their position, but also requires them to record the volume and location of their catch, helping to tackle the issue of IUU fishing.
    • For instance, the European Union has made it mandatory to provide this information for all fish imports.
  • In India, while larger vessels, over 20 metres in length, have such Automatic Identification Systems installed, similar efforts for sub-20 metre vessels have been delayed.

 

About IFC-IOR

  • The Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) has been established at Gurugram in the year 2018 and is collocated with Information Management and Analysis Centre which is jointly administered by the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard.
  • IFC-IOR is established with the vision of strengthening maritime security in the region and beyond, by building a common coherent maritime situation picture and acting as a maritime information hub for the region.
  • Establishment of IFC-IOR ensures that the entire region is benefitted by mutual collaboration and exchange of information and understanding the concerns and threats which are prevalent in the region.
  • The information Exchange at the IFC-IOR would be initially undertaken by virtual means, using telephone calls, faxes, emails and video conferencing over internet. Subsequently, to enable better interconnection, quicker analysis of information and provide timely inputs, the IFC-IOR would host Liaison Officers from partner countries. Additionally, towards enhancing capability building, the IFC-IOR would undertake conduct of exercises and training capsules in maritime information collection and sharing.