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  This module is a resource for lecturers  

 

Exercises and case studies

 
Regional perspective: Pacific Islands Region
 

Case study 1 (Blue boats apprehended in the Solomon Islands, 2017)

The so-called "blue boats" are wooden vessels between 10 to 15 meters long that engage in illegal fishing activities in the Pacific region. These small-scale operations do not carry electronic detectable equipment onboard and are undetectable at sea; in addition to not paying fees or soliciting permits, they utilize fishing techniques that are not legal neither environmentally sound. In recent years, "blue boats" became a concern for the Pacific nations as they have increased both the geographic spread and the frequency of its illegal activities.

Regina v. Do Van VA and Others is the first case dealing with Vietnamese "blue boats" in the Solomon Islands. On March 26, 2017, three men were apprehended by the Maritime Police, each in charge of a different "blue boat" fishing in territorial waters of the Solomon Islands. They plead guilty to the offences of illegal entry of foreign fishing vessel, illegal catching and selling of beche-de-mer (also known as sea cucumbers), use and possession of prohibited fishing gear, and engaging in fish processing activities without an export license. The Hight Court of Solomon Islands sentenced them to four years of imprisonment and imposed hefty monetary fines. The vessels, seized during the operation, were forfeited to the Government and ordered to be destroyed unless further usage was required.  

Case-related files

 

Significant feature

  • Illegal fishing
  • Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) offences
 

Discussion questions

  • Read the case and discuss, utilizing key concepts of this module, the extent of the threat that fisheries crimes pose to the Pacific Islands.
  • What are the consequences of unsustainable fishing for a society that heavily relies on fishing as economic activity? Research your country's regulations pertaining unsustainable fishing and discuss the appropriateness of sanctions as well as the challenges of implementation.
 

Case study 2 (Drug trafficking using a tourist vessel)

On June 22, 2018, Fiji Customs officers boarded and searched the yacht "Shenanigans" that arrived at Port Denarau. The vessel had left Florida, USA, on February 2018, and travelled to Colombia, Panama, French Polynesia and Tahiti before arriving in Fiji. The yacht became a vessel of interest for the Border Enforcement Unit upon officers noticing that it did not appear on their Automatic Identification System that uses satellite-based navigation to track vessels.  Brisbane, Australia, was the Shenanigans' final destination.

John Nikolic, a well-known 45 years old horse trainer from Australia, was the vessel's captain. He was sailing with his wife-under whom the yacht was registered-and a small crew. Fiji Customs officers discovered onboard a shipment of cocaine and methamphetamine that was reported to be valued in more than $20 million, as well as firearms, ammunitions and a large sum of cash. Nikolic drug overdosed while still on the boat at the moment of his arrest and had to be hospitalized.

He was found guilty in 2019 of drug importation, possession, and failure to declare arms and ammunitions following a trial at the High Court in Suva. He was sentenced to 23 years of imprisonment with no parole for 18 years. His wife was acquitted of all charges.

Case-related files

 

Significant feature

  • Drug trafficking
  • Registered tourist vessel
 

Discussion questions

  • Utilizing key concepts of this module, discuss the threats and challenges to the Pacific region post by the trafficking of illegal substances via sea.
  • Do you agree with the sentence imposed? What factors could explain the difference with the sentence of the previous case's (Vietnamese blue boats) masters? Please provide reasoning.
 

Exercise 1 on risk assessment

Select one of the following environmental cases and conduct a risk assessment drawing from key concepts of this module:

 

Note to instructor

  • The student should identify threat and harm and discuss specifics of the context. 
 

Guidance to students

Risk-measurement scale / Risk Level (RL):

  • risk 1 = Minimal
  • risk 2 = Slight/small
  • risk 3 = Moderate
  • risk 4 = Severe
  • risk n = No expertise/no data/not relevant 

Factors for analysis: 

  • Characteristics of the illegal market
  • Environmental risks
    • Effect on ecosystem services
    • Effect on biodiversity
    • Effect on food web
  • Impact on communities
    • Social
    • Cultural 
    • Economical  
  • Organized Crime Involvement
    • Economic costs and consequences (evasion of taxes or duties, costs to the judicial system)
    • Evidence of laundering practices.
    • Evidence of strategies to prevent detection (e.g. corruption).
 

Exercise 2 on risk assessment

Make the students play with this interactive map for five to ten minutes. Then, engage them in a discussion about the risks of "spillover effects" of illegally manufactured and trafficked substances into local markets and how this affects communities.

Source: The Guardian. 
 

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