Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing undercuts effective fisheries management, harms Ocean ecosystems, and undermines food security. It is estimated that IUU fishing costs the global economy over USD$20 billion per annum, leading to some fish stocks being on the verge of collapse. With some
Policy tool – Insuring against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing – Vessel Viewer
ORRAA, along with our partners Global Fishing Watch and TMT have developed an innovative new technology tool: Vessel Viewer, which can be incorporated into insurance underwriting processes to help stop illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing vessels from securing insurance, in so doing, combat IUU fishing. By cutting off access to insurance, the insurance sector can play a key role in creating a strong financial disincentive against IUU fishing, while also protecting themselves from exposure to legal liability and reputational harm. A win-win for insurers and the Ocean.
Vessel Viewer is a data and insights tool that offers critical information on vessel identity, activities, and authorizations. It compiles multiple data sources and links it to insights that highlight the potential that a vessel may be engaging in or supporting IUU fishing. By arming underwriters with this important information, they can more effectively evaluate their potential exposure risk, and enable them to flag any concerns or gaps to investigate further before proceeding with insurance coverage.
IUU fishing undercuts effective fisheries management and harms Ocean ecosystems. It is estimated that IUU fishing costs the global economy over USD$20 billion annually, leading to some fish stocks being on the verge of collapse. IUU fishing has become pervasive by taking advantage of the lack of transparency in the fishing industry, using gaps in regulations and patchy monitoring at sea and in port, to operate undetected. With 12 per cent of the world’s population relying on fisheries for their livelihoods, IUU fishing threatens the economic security of millions of small-scale fishers and their communities as well as legitimate fishers. In addition, IUU fishing is closely associated with labour and human rights abuses.
Removing access to insurance is one lever that has significant potential to deter IUU fishing globally. Vessel Viewer, a vessel history and insights tool developed by Global Fishing Watch and TMT, helps insurers evaluate the current and past behaviours and characteristics of vessels to estimate their likelihood of engaging in or supporting IUU fishing. This tool will help insurers fill information gaps on the vessels they insure and will create a positive cycle of information-sharing, with the aim to deliver increased data transparency and improved risk assessment.
The initiative has also developed in collaboration with environmental non-profit, Oceana, which has led parallel work to secure approval of new insurance policy wording with the Lloyd’s Market Association (LMA) that enables insurers to cut off policy coverage to a vessel, its owners or managers, if they are added to an official government IUU fishing blacklist.
Scalability and Next Steps
A beta-version of Vessel Viewer has been pilot tested with 16 insurance and reinsurance companies taking part to help co-develop the tool with industry insight. Feedback from insurers has updated into Vessel Viewer 2.0, launched in October 2023.
Further improvements and additional features will be released in early-to-mid 2024. The development of these features is also being informed by feedback received during the pilots with insurers. Vessel Viewer is now available for commercial use by insurers. Vessel Viewer’s Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are also now available for integration directly into insurers’ internal data tools.
If you are interested in using Vessel Viewer, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition, further work is now underway to develop new features for the tool based on requests from the pilot users, including aggregated and dynamic reporting insights to be released in 2024.
Listen to a podcast hosted by Gard, one of the world’s largest P&I (Protection and Indemnity) clubs, in discussion with ORRAA’s Lindsay Getschel on why the insurance sector is key to tackling IUU fishing and Gard’s experience piloting Vessel Viewer.
Global Fishing Watch Vessel Viewer full URL:
Read the October 2023 blog about the development of Vessel Viewer here.