The murkiness of Beneficial Ownership / by Francisco Blaha

Beneficial ownership is enjoyed by anyone who has the benefits of ownership of a Security (finance) or property, and yet does not nominally own the asset itself. In Fisheries it a more diffuse concept, but it comes down to who ultimate benefits of the profits of the fishing activities, because is the one that did the investment.

In November 2012 the EU's DG MARE published a list of selected third countries that the Commission considered as “possible of being identified as non-cooperating third countries pursuant to IUU Regulation” pursuant to Council Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008. The Commission Decision identified Belize, Cambodia, Fiji, Guinea, Panama, Sri Lanka, Togo and Vanuatu as such potential non-cooperating third countries. 

At the time, Trygg Mat (a Norwegian NGO that unfortunately seems to have ceased operations) conducted a brief analysis of the fishing vessels flagged to these countries and what companies are involved as owners or operators of them.

Their results were quite revealing, as you can see:

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Number of vessels where EU companies own or play an operational part 

Recently, Sri Lanka (the only one without EU players) was declared a non cooperating country (red carded) and exports embargoed. Vanuatu, Fiji, Togo and Panama went back to green. Belize went to red and then came back to green.

I would love to know what are the figures now.

IUU fishing is a really complex issue, and while the EU has its anti IUU regulations and the catch certification scheme, the finances behind it are way beyond the controls of the certification and how good are some countries in terms of their Flag State responsibilities.