This document summarises official French observations of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing over the past year, and reports on implementation of the CCAMLR Inspection System. It also includes an analysis of developments in IUU fishing and proposes ways of improving actions taken to fight it.
The geographical area covered in this study comprises Statistical Subarea 58.6 and Divisions 58.5.1 and 58.5.2, including the French Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) around Crozet and Kerguelen and the Australian EEZ around Heard and McDonald respectively, and Statistical Divisions 58.4.3 and 58.4.4 (international waters including fishable depths on BANZARE, Elan, Lena and Ob Banks).
Surveillance of these EEZs is undertaken jointly by France and Australia under a bilateral cooperation agreement established between these two countries in 2003. This surveillance system has been operational throughout the year. It has proved to be effective, in that there is no longer any sign of IUU fishing in the EEZs. The fish stocks, which were badly affected in the Kerguelen and Crozet EEZs until 2004, are now protected. While there may be a faint possibility of short forays being made into the area, it is too slight to enable any positive statement to be made as to IUU catches having taken place in the Crozet and Kerguelen EEZs.
IUU fishing does, however, continue to make its presence felt in the Convention Area in international waters. The combined effects of a rise in the price of diesel and a drop in the selling price of toothfish had the effect of limiting the numbers of IUU vessels deployed in the Convention Area towards the end of 2008 and at the beginning of 2009, with these vessels preferring to target fisheries closer to ports of unlading. With the effects of these specific economic conditions becoming less pronounced, a fresh upsurge in IUU activities is now being observed in the Convention Area. The increase in the selling price of toothfish serves as an incentive for renewed growth in IUU activities.
IUU fishing activities are regularly observed on the outer edges of the continental shelves outside the EEZs. This season, the IUU fleet has again focused on BANZARE and Elan Banks (Statistical Division 58.4.3) as well as on the more scattered seamounts (Ob and Lena), and occasionally on the boundary of the Kerguelen and Heard EEZs (Lameyne Ridge, Gallienni Spur, Williams Seamount). A resumption of IUU activities targeting Antarctic toothfish stocks has been observed along the continental shelves, which are accessible in summer.
All IUU vessels observed use gillnets. A number of them state that some of their crew members, mainly the officers, including captains and fishing masters, are nationals of CCAMLR Member countries.
On the high seas, the presence of surveillance craft showing the CCAMLR insignia has not been sufficient to discourage IUU vessels from pursuing their activities. Some do not hesitate to change their name and flag under the very eyes of patrol vessels, at distances of only tens of metres.