Protect our Oceans in 2024

For International Environment Day, on June 5, Cartovista takes a quick look at the state of international fishing, focusing on free data made available online by the GlobalFishingwatch organization (click here to see the map)

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing accounts for up to 20% of fish caught worldwide. IUU fishing can have a significant impact on ecosystems, lead to increased pressure on endangered fish species and represent a loss of income for local fishermen.

Using GPS data and satellite imagery, GFW can detect vessels operating in international waters as well as in exclusive economic zones close to coastal states (200 mi – 370 km).

Monitoring fishing activity

At CartoVista, we’ve created an interactive map that shows you the full range of regulatory zones, exclusive economic zones and activity density by analyzing encounters between fishing vessels and carrier vessels, also known as “transshipments”.


Analysing transshipment is essential

Transshipments (analyzed as encounters at sea between container ships and fishing vessels) can enable the transfer of illegal, undeclared and unregulated seafood products. By analyzing the satellite positions of vessels, we can identify and classify them by transshipment status
There are 3 types:

  1.  Authorized: The encounter has been authorized by Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs), the necessary permits and documents have been obtained and are consistent with the vessel’s activity. This also makes it possible to record the stocks caught in the said area.
  2. Partial: The encounter has been partially authorized, which may be the case when the fishing vessel is located at the intersection of two RFMOs. The vessel must then comply with several sets of regulations at the same time, which may create a certain opacity from which it could take advantage (e.g. by fishing for a species that is protected in one area but authorized in another).
  3. Unknown: Fishing has not been declared, so it is impossible to determine whether activities are in compliance with regulations, with a strong presumption of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

Transhipments between 2021 and 2023

Study case of the carrier vessel "Cheng Hang"

In 2021, the Chinese carrier Cheng Hang will make 3 trips to South America. On its first trip (green), it will carry out a dozen transshipments with local fishing vessels, recovering thousands of tons of fish. At the end of his trip, which lasts a few months, he returns to China to sell his production.

The advantage of these carriers lies in their capacity to refuel and store up to 12,000 tonnes, as is the case with the Cheng Hang carrier.

By operating continuously in the open sea, fishing vessels can devote themselves solely to their activity, without having to return to port, where reporting is compulsory. This practice can lead to an increased risk of undeclared fishing and a concentration of activity in certain fragile areas.

Each time, the transshipment status will be “partial”, which is unfortunately very much the case in the region, with 80% of activities not “authorized”.

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