South Africa: The Scourge of Illegal Fishing Must Be Curbed for the Sake of Local Economies and Regional Security


In an area already facing rampant piracy, the pillaging of fish stocks by industrial operators must be stopped.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference's (COP26) inclusion of the necessity for healthy oceans was welcome news. However, despite some notable calls for action before and during the event, insufficient emphasis was placed on the importance of conserving fish, fisheries and marine ecosystems.

The 2019 Africa Blue Economy Strategy lists fisheries and aquaculture as one of seven crucial areas for creating sustainable blue economies. Fishing is seen as a relatively untapped sector for Africa's development and prosperity. It is unlikely to bear fruit though unless the exploitation of marine resources is curbed. Illegal fishing takes different forms, but large-scale industrial operators do the most damage to ecosystems and the environment.

Climate change worsens the effects of overexploited fish stocks, limiting their ability to regenerate. Given the current crisis, urgent measures are needed in vulnerable coastal communities, particularly in West Africa where piracy, armed robbery and kidnapping are rampant.

Illegal fishing in West Africa is a challenge on three levels. First, it jeopardises the management of fish stock by disrupting regulatory processes. To achieve a sustainable fishing sector, countries must manage the growth...

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