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Corruption and lawlessness are some of the biggest obstacles to the ongoing fight against fisheries crimes. With the incorrect belief that marine resources are unlimited, plunderers and often the public, seem to be of the view that their actions are victimless.

Corruption threatens effective regulation and crime prevention at every stage of the fisheries value chain, and has adverse bearing not only on marine resources, but also on those living off the oceans.

These were some of the assertions made by Nelson Mandela University’s FishFORCE Academy director, Prof Hennie van As, during a webinar this morning on Addressing corruption to address fisheries crime.

“The rule of law is essential for the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies and to build effective and accountable institutions. One of the biggest threats to the rule of law is corruption. In the fisheries sector it also threatens the achievement of some of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals,” said Prof van As.

With academic institutions having a critical role to play in this regard, the FishFORCE Academy has teamed up with the Norwegian Embassy, the One Ocean Hub and the UNODC’s Education 4 Justice to provide insight into what can be done to address corruption in the fisheries sector.

These include the bribery of law enforcement officials to turn a blind eye to illegal activity, embezzlement, fraud, extortion, conflict of interest and abuse of power by senior officials.

In the webinar, Prof van As outlined a number of strategies aimed at combatting corruption, including criminalising it and all activities that undermine efforts to root out fisheries crime.

“There is a need to clarify law and ensure that fisheries and anti-corruption laws are practical and implementable, and also disseminate these laws broadly to judges, prosecutors, wildlife enforcement personnel and the general public,” said Prof van As.

He said with corruption rife even among those meant to enforcing fisheries laws, for example, developed anti-corruption strategies need to focus on the respective organisation, employees, external stakeholders and law enforcement.

The FishFORCE Academy, the first ever in Africa, was established in 2016 in the Faculty of Law at Nelson Mandela University. Funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, FishFORCE’s main objective is to improve knowledge and promote intelligence-led investigations and prosecutions of criminals engaged in fisheries crime in Africa and globally.

With the support of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, FishFORCE has developed a number of courses, which include fisheries trade monitoring; basic criminal investigation; enforcement of marine and coastal legislation; taking of statements, and identifying species and illegal gear typically used in fishing.

Follow these hyperlinks to access Prof van As’s presentation and the webinar.

Contact information
Mr Michael de Lange
Chief Operating Officer FishFORCE
Tel: 0415044961