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Insuring against Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing

Policy tool – Insuring against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing

Project Lead: ORRAA
Supporting Partners: Global Fishing Watch, Trygg Mat Tracking
Financial Support: Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

Location: Global

Summary 

In September 2022, working with partners Global Fishing Watch and Trygg Mat-Tracking, with insights from Oceana, ORRAA launched the 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 keeping unscrupulous clients off their books while providing a disincentive to engaging in illegal fishing.

Challenge 

IUU fishing undercuts effective fisheries management and harms Ocean ecosystems. It is estimated that it costs the global economy over USD$20billion 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.

Solution

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 Vessel Viewer, a rapid risk assessment tool to help insurers evaluate the 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 Vessel Viewer 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.

Download the IUU information pamphlet in English / Spanish.