‘Probability Of Illegal Fishing In Our EEZ Is Low’

January 31, 2017 | 7 Comments

The Ministry of the Environment said they “received a preliminary analysis of three years’ worth of Automatic Identification System [AIS] data that shows the probability of illegal fishing in our 200-mile exclusive economic zone [EEZ] appears to be low.”

“For the first time, Bermuda has the advantage of a real picture of the kind of activity taking place in our EEZ,” a spokesperson said.

“Satellite Applications Catapult [Catapult], a UK based company, reviewed shipping activity data collected via satellite from 2013 to 2016.

“The data was collected inside Bermuda’s 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone and a surrounding 100 nautical mile buffer zone, which constituted the Bermuda Area of Interest. The study was funded by Aurum Fund Management Limited—a Bermuda based investment manager.

“Catapult analysed Automatic Identification System [AIS] signals broadcast from commercial vessel over 300 gross tons as well as fishing and pleasure vessels. Vessel identification, distribution and speed were examined to determine likely fishing activities in an area.

“Preliminary results show that there are no strong seasonal or spatial trends in AIS activity that could potentially be associated with illegal fishing. A total of 12,700 unique vessels were identified during the three-year” review period.”

Cole Simons, Minister of the Environment said, “The preliminary finding that there is no intense illegal fishing is welcome news.

“The Ministry is grateful for the support of Aurum Fund Management, who paid for this important study. This analysis gives us a much deeper understanding of what is happening in our Exclusive Economic Zone.

“The Department of the Environment and Natural Resources, guided by the Marine Resources Board, will now review the report and propose recommendations for the appropriate level of monitoring needed to confirm suspicious fishing activity within our EEZ going forward. Ultimately, we want to conserve Bermuda’s resources for Bermuda’s sustainable use.”

“We at Aurum have a long history of supporting environmental conservation projects ever since our founding in Bermuda in 1994, and we’ve made marine stewardship a very high priority,” said President Dudley Cottingham.

“We believe that Bermuda is uniquely placed to play a leading role in marine conservation. Preliminary results show that this is good news for Bermuda and the study provides an important benchmark that can be used when analysing future activity.”

If a foreign vessel is convicted of fishing illegally in Bermuda waters [anywhere in the EEZ], the Fisheries Act 1972 provides for a fine of up to $1 million and confiscation of the vessel and the fish.

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Comments (7)

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  1. Jim Bob says:

    It's all good having the ability to fine and confiscate the vessels but who is actually enforcing the law? We have a department of fisheries but do they have vessels that can go 200 miles offshore to enforce the law?

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  2. We have no Coast Guard or Marine Military, so what ya gonna do bout it?
    Ita been happening for years.

    Like(1)
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    • Jus' Wonderin' says:

      We're gonna send you out there to watch out for guys...

      Like(6)
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  3. Bill says:

    That's good news, glad we are getting more involved with protecting our eez. quote “The preliminary finding that there is no intense illegal fishing is welcome news."

    Although it looks like they are monitoring just vessels with ais commercial vessel over 300 gross tons as well as fishing and pleasure vessels.
    If I were illegaly fishing I would just turn off my ais.

    This is the first step and next step:
    We need a coast guard to monitor this for several reasons- people in distress and illegal activity.

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  4. Watching says:

    We set the bar pretty low - 'no intense illegal fishing'. Why isn't the figure provided for the number of vessels who may have been illegally fishing.

    Does this give the Government comfort to continue to ignore the respondents to the marine protection survey where a resounding number of respondents voted yes to greater protection for our EEZ.

    Alternatively, they can continue to listen to the half dozen or so vocal fishermen who resist greater conservation.

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    • sugra says:

      No.

      It gives Government comfort because they made the right call by fending off outside influence hellbent on shaping our sovereign decisions. The same influence that created the false urgency in the first place, if we're really calling spades here.

      Bags of (guilty) money to campaign with... offices... staff... tshirts for every school kid... the USCG on fisheries patrol for free if you sign! All that coin spent and all that pull in high places... but it took a conscious corporate citizen's donation to finally lay out some hard data to consider?

      Refusing a sell out to undue influence does not an anti-conservationist make. Do some homework.

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  5. Terry says:

    This is just politics.
    We have no ships and 0 manpower.
    A couple of dinky small vessels that patrol inshore and out to Argus banks just for the hell of it.

    These vessels have been doing this since the 50's. First the Japanese then the Koreans and their huge mother ships.
    St. George was packed with them in the 670-70's getting fuel.

    Even if we had just one large tug type vessel that could tow a ship here they have to catch them doing it. And smaller 100' foot trawler would just turn tail and steam off.
    Bermuda has nothing to enforce i.e. coastguard.

    Hell......we can't even agree to come to terms on things needed to be done on land.
    Shalom.

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