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 US$20 billion per annum1, leading to some fish stocks being on the verge of collapse. With some
Policy tool – Insuring against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing
In September 2022, working with partners Global Fishing Watch and Trygg Mat-Tracking, with support and insights from Oceana, ORRAA launched its Vessel Viewer insurance de-risking tool to tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Vessel Viewer enables underwriters to rapidly secure the information they need to answer whether they should insure a vessel. Cutting off access to insurance makes it more costly and risky to operate illegal fishing vessels. With this tool, insurers can avoid exposure and reputational risk by unscrupulous clients and reduce their options to engage in illegal fishing.
IUU fishing undercuts effective fisheries management and harms Ocean ecosystems. It is estimated that it 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 of the high seas and at ports, to operate undetected. With 12 per cent of the world’s population relying on fisheries for their livelihoods, this activity threatens the economic security of millions of small-scale fishers and their communities. 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 reduce IUU fishing globally. ORRAA, with project delivery partners Global Fishing Watch and Trygg Mat Tracking, is leading the development of a rapid risk assessment tool to help insurers evaluate the past behaviours and characteristics of vessels to estimate their likelihood of engaging in IUU fishing. This tool will help insurers fill information gaps on the vessels they insure and will create a positive cycle of information-sharing, leading to increased transparency and improved risk assessments. The initiative, with support from AXA XL and Oceana, has also worked to assess the feasibility of requiring International Maritime Organisation (IMO) numbers – unique and permanent vessel identifiers – as a condition of insurance as well as developing policy language to stop coverage and prevent claims payments if a vessel is found to be linked to IUU fishing.
Scalability and Next Steps
The project team is engaging with insurers to build the rapid risk assessment tool and pilot its implementation. Fourteen insurance and re-insurance companies are currently pilot testing the tool after which it will be made available to the industry as a whole.
In November, Gard’s Kim Jefferies spoke with ORRAA’s Lindsay Getschel about the Vessel Viewer tool and what it will do to increase transparency around fishing vessel activities.