8 January 2017 - The fisheries sector is a global industry, which is vital for human prosperity. Fish and fish products are amongst the most-traded food commodities, with fish trade representing a significant source of foreign currency earnings for many States.
Though, illegal activities continue to take place along the entire fisheries value chain, with crimes ranging from large-scale overfishing to a wide variety of other criminal offences on- and offshore. With a view to countering fisheries crime, the Container Control Programme (CCP), developed jointly by UNODC and the World Customs Organization (WCO), recently held a regional meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
The training represents a follow-up to last year's launch of a new training programme to fight fisheries crime through a comprehensive inter-agency approach. Launched in Bangladesh, the programme aims to bring together various Port Control Units, coastguards, navy, fisheries departments and other relevant actors to improve cooperation and coordination.
At the opening of the meeting, a representative from the Embassy of Norway pointed to the vast potential that oceans offer as UNODC encouraged participants to keep the discussions at the operational level. An expert from the Ministry for Trade, Fisheries and Industries of Norway delivered technical presentations and shared practical examples while emphasizing the important role played by inter-agency cooperation.
The meeting provided an opportunity to exchange national best practices and discuss how to improve synergies and strengthen regional communication. Acknowledging the importance of the Programme, Member States encouraged UNODC and WCO to continue their efforts in South Asia.
Dirk De Langhe, CCP's lead trainer said: "The trainings on fisheries crime are paying off and the first seizures are being reported. Still a long way to go, but the first steps in the journey are taken."
The Container Control Programme is jointly implemented by UNODC and the World Customs Organization. The Programme has operational Port Control Units at sea and land borders and Air Cargo Control Units at airports in 44 countries, while various activities have been initiated in 11 other countries.
To date, approximately 212 metric tons (mt) of cocaine, 5mt of heroin, 68 mt of cannabis, and 1,557 mt of precursors (drugs and explosives) have been seized.