Martin A. Sebastian: DOC Article 6 – Explore and Undertake Cooperative Activities Confidence Building Through Functional Cooperation Addressing Transnational Crime in Fisheries

DOC Article 6 – Explore and Undertake Cooperative Activities
Confidence Building Through Functional Cooperation Addressing Transnational Crime in Fisheries

Martin A. Sebastian


South China Sea has been reported to have rich living and non living resources namely oil/gas and fisheries. Whilst there has been considerable confrontation in the South China Sea ove oil and gas resources, fisheries are the only resource that can go from non traditional law enforcement issue to traditional State to State confrontation issue due to food security. Fossil fuels are not renewable and will run out in due time. They are energy resources, where the  revolution towards renewable clean energy is ongoing. The future does not seem to hold much promise on this resource. However, fisheries are renewable resources and holds the key to the future of coastal communities in the region. With annual catch production accounting for over 10% of global catch, these resources feed 77 per cent of the 190 million coastal population.  Malaysia loses RM 4 billion annually to illegal fishing. Since the 2002 Declaration of Conduct of Parties, Article 6 has not been fully undertaken to foster functional cooperation against Transnational Organised Crime. In this case, against Illegal Fishing and Fishery Crimes.

The aim of the Regional Order Construction must be to safeguard  food/revenue/human  security and fostering socioeconomic development, deter and suppress threats to sustainable fisheries; and advocate scientific methods towards Fish Stock Assessments and Maximum Sustainable Yields. These activities are apolitical and will benefit the sustainability of fisheries, generating economy and sustaining the livelihood of the coastal and island communities. It has the potential to safeguard resources which may otherwise be depleted by a common threat.

Transhipment Ships have been identified as the nexus to fish laundering, drug smuggling and human trafficking. Together, the region can save the revenue that is being stolen and save the resources for the future generation.

Many regional States are already taking steps towards safeguarding their fishery resources. China, Vietnam and Thailand were reportedly the main fisheries exporters in the world hence there are already experiences in fishery management and production in these countries. Indonesia has been increasingly resilient in addressing Illegal Unregulated and Unreported Fishing as a Transnational Crime. Philippines has a large coastal community that rely on fisheries as food, revenue and human security.

In accordance with Article 6 of the 2002 DOC and moving towards a practical COC, it will be vital to start  Building a Regional Order by collectively exploring functional cooperation areas for fisheries through the following:

  1. Safeguarding Food/Revenue/Human Security. Identifying common areas where IUU and fishery crimes are committed. Address Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA) and Flags of Convenience where Transhipment is concerned. Seek partnerships with organisations like United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime – Global Maritime Crimes Programme (UNODC-GMCP), Global Fishing Watch (GFW), and other like minded organisations to map out challenges and develop a roadmap with milestone charts to be a template for further deliberations.
  2. Fostering Socioeconomic Development. Identifying areas where coastal/island communities will be guided to conduct sustainable fishing through well planned capture fishing, multi tropic mariculture and aquaculture. Partnerships with Organisations like Fishery Industries and stewards of fishery certification like the Marine Stewardship Council. Identify artisanal areas where high friction has occurred on sustainable fisheries and rejuvenate the ecosystem.
  3. Deter and Suppress Threats to Sustainable Fisheries. Address the issue of destructive fishing and bycatch by formulating common laws to deter the use of destructive substances and the arrival of bycatch at landing sites. Ensure Maximum Sustainable Yields are exercised where capture fisheries are concerned. Partner with Organisations like World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) or TRAFFIC to develop roadmaps.
  4. Conduct collaborative Fish Stock Assessment and identify stocks in danger. Replenish trough scientific methods fisheries that are depleting. Study the utility of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) and their contribution to a better eco -based services to the ocean.