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Putting Environmental Crimes on the Defense and Security Agenda

, Thursday, May 8, 2014

Last month, amid nonstop coverage of the Ukrainian crisis and an onslaught of domestic U.S. issues, the New York Times published an editorial urging the U.S. Congress to pass legislation to comply with international obligations on illegal fishing. Why did the editorial board think this issue warranted ink? Part of the answer is that the illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) trade in fish is no longer just a conservation and biodiversity challenge. Environmental crimes across the board today have significant consequences for countries’ development aspirations, in addition to global security implications. In this light, governments around the world need to sharpen their approach to fighting environmental criminals.

As the New York Times pointed out, the take-home catch for illegal fishers every year is between 11 million and 26 million metric tons, which generates about $10 billion to $23.5 billion in revenue. This is bad news for conservation and biodiversity efforts, since 53 percent of the world’s fisheries are considered to be fully exploited and in danger of permanent depletion. It is also bad news for national economies, particularly those in developing nations, which account for 80 percent of the world’s total fish exports. Extensive IUU fishing significantly lowers government tax or export duty revenue. ...

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