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The intersection between illegal fishing, crimes at sea, and social well-being


Mackay, M and Hardesty, BD and Wilcox, C, The intersection between illegal fishing, crimes at sea, and social well-being, Frontiers in Marine Science, 7 Article 589000. ISSN 2296-7745 (2020) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2020 Mackay, Hardesty and Wilcox. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY).

DOI: doi:10.3389/fmars.2020.589000


Illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing is a major contributor to global overfishing, threatening food security, maritime livelihoods, and fisheries sustainability. An emerging narrative in the literature posits that IUU fishing is associated with additional organized criminal activities, such as drug trafficking, human trafficking, slavery, and arms smuggling. We explored this narrative through a systematic literature review to identify the empirical evidence of the association between illegal fisheries activities and organized crimes. Here we show that there is minimal evidence of organized crimes being linked to IUU fishing. Due to the covert nature of both organized crime and IUU fishing, we supplemented the literature review with analysis of media reports on illegal fishing from 2015 to 2019. We reviewed more than 330 individual media reports from 21 countries. From this database, < 2% reported crimes associated with illegal fishing. The predominantly associated crime mentioned were violations of worker's rights, forced labor and/or modern slavery. We resolve the contradiction between the common narrative that fisheries and other crimes are linked by presenting three distinct business models for maritime criminal activities. These models explain why certain crimes such as forced labor are associated with illegal fishing, while other crimes such as trafficking or smuggling are less likely to be linked to fishing activities. By disentangling these crimes from one another we can better focus on solutions to reduce illegal behavior on the sea, protect those vulnerable to fisheries exploitation, and enhance livelihoods and social well-being.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:illegal fishing, organized crime, forced labor, fisheries crime, social well-being
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Fisheries sciences
Research Field:Fisheries sciences not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of pelagic marine ecosystems
UTAS Author:Mackay, M (Ms Mary Mackay)
UTAS Author:Hardesty, BD (Dr Britta Hardesty)
UTAS Author:Wilcox, C (Dr Chris Wilcox)
ID Code:150738
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:13
Deposited By:Directorate
Deposited On:2022-06-27
Last Modified:2022-07-28
Downloads:2 View Download Statistics

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