Fish Poaching in Tristan
- It is unclear to me who the "we" are who the author says have
the political will to turn things around. I wish I could
share her optimism. Political will includes the willingness
to spend the money required to stop poaching. Clearly, no
one with the necessary financial resources is willing to
spend such money, or they would have done so and the problem
would be corrected. But poaching continues to be a major
problem throughout the South Atlantic and Caribbean British
The figure of £5,000 a day is fanciful. That's £1,825,000 a
year, and at the unfortunately-low wages paid in Tristan,
this should be enough not only to operate, staff and maintain
the existing patrol boat but replace the engines every year.
Well-maintained diesel engines should provide many years of
heavy use. The above figures thus seem to be mostly vessel
acquisition costs, but Tristan's vessel is already bought and
Gough Island and its economic zone are a world treasure, and
the world needs to help the Tristanians take care of it.
They can't afford to do so, the Government of St. Helena is
on grant-in-aid, and so it falls to the UK Department for
International Development (DFID) to finance the project.
DFID won't even finance the proposed harbour facility that
the islanders need for their survival, so it may be a while
before they awaken to the needs of the Tristan fisheries
The problem is not in the South Atlantic but in London. In
the light of recent reports on the global fisheries crisis,
now is perhaps a propitious time to put pressure on Defra,
DFID, FCO and Treasury to come up with a joined-up commitment
to preventing illegal fishing fishing in all UKOTs EEZs, in
consultation and cooperation with the OTs.
British West Indies
Fish Poachers Could be Exterminated before 2048
Submitted by (Juanita Brock) 06.11.2006
The article about diminishing fish stocks in Journal Science does not go far enough. We could prolong decline in fish
stocks if we stop poaching.
An Editorial by J. Brock (FINN)
Hats off to the authors of a report in the Friday, 03 November Journal Science, when we were warned that fish fingers
could be “little more than a fond memory in a few decades.” The article named pollution and over-fishing as the main
culprits. Nonetheless it is right about pollution - people who illegally dump pollutants at sea have a lot to answer
for - but naïve concerning over-fishing. Today’s editorial deals with over-fishing.
I have no doubt about scientists foreseeing species extinction – or their commercial extinction - but what is unclear in
the report is whether the world-wide catch data they relied on for research took species that have been poached into
I know that some fishing nations use models and do research cruises to determine biomass and estimate what could be
poached when they determine the total allowable catch and if that is reached early, a date to close the fishery.
However, in many instances fisheries do not have the money to conduct the research needed to determine biomass, let
alone how much poaching to take into consideration.
Not all fishing nations can afford fishery patrol vessels and their legal and policing systems are not adequate to bring
true justice to those who have been caught stealing their fish. At approximately £5,000.00 a day per ship, the
Falklands and South Georgia fisheries can share resources and routinely patrol their respective fisheries zones.
But go north to Tristan da Cunha and you find that there are weeks on end when patrol cover is scant to non existent.
While they can patrol the area around Tristan, Nightingale and Inaccessible Islands with the resources they have,
officials must rely on licensed fishermen and the M/V Edinburgh to monitor the waters around Gouth Island – a Tristan da
The further north you go, the less resource there is to protect abundant fisheries. Like it or not, poachers plunder
fish stocks on the Bonaparte sea mount on a regular basis and there is little the authorities on St. Helena can do about
it. Further north still, the rich fishery at the Grattan seamount is also robbed of fish and income for Ascension Island.
Whether managed by species or ecosystem – and I think Dr. Worm is correct in his assumption – individual vessels or
syndicated ones who methodically steal fish will not pay attention to any warnings until there is nothing in the sea to
take out. It is the honest, hard working fish-workers who suffer – who have suffered – since fisheries regulations have
been put in place – and for some coastal nations, that’s a pretty long time.
The damage doesn’t end with fish workers and their incomes. Poaching takes money from much needed projects such as
infrastructure like roads and hospitals.
In the United Kingdom there is a limit to days when a vessel can fish but there is no limit for a poaching vessel.
Granted, in the best managed fisheries, like the ones in waters around the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, patrol
vessels are a deterrent to poaching in many instances. Note I said many instances. If the fish are present there are
poachers waiting to take them.
Yes. We have political will to turn things around but we are thwarted by two things - both of them illegal – illegal
dumping of pollutants at sea and the poaching of our marine resources. Ask any fisherman who has paid for his licence,
what he thinks about the next ship over taking fish without a licence or catch quota and you will receive a very angry
reply. There is strong temptation that next year the angry fisherman will go poaching and forget about paying for his
We don’t live in an ideal world and people will dump their harmful waste into the sea and steal its resources until they
are stopped – globally.
To be cynical, I would say that if poachers have their way, 2048 would be leaving it too long for ecosystem extinction -
I can’t see intelligent people buying poached fish from heavily polluted oceans. And when the fish are gone we finally
would have solved the problem of poaching.
Cynical or not, if nothing is done bout poaching fish it could be sooner rather than later that we are all fished out.
That political will to save our fish stocks and clean up our oceans needs to focus on the illegal activities that cause
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