Ports play a major role in the fishing industry. They give vessels and crews access to essential services and supplies, and enable vessel operators to land their catch. While the vast majority of ports operate responsibly and seek to avoid becoming conduits for fish caught via illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) means some do not . There are ports that accept IUU catch knowingly while others, because they lack sufficient resources, expertise and/or training, may unwittingly allow IUU caught fish to pass through their facilities.
My colleagues Tim Huntington, Fiona Nimmo and Graeme Macfadyen from Poseidon Consultants with the support from The Pew Charitable Trusts, just published a study set out to identify the world’s busiest and most important fishing ports. And is avery good read!
I find the ranking quite interesting (at a professional and personal level) since I worked in many of them. And while I had no idea how they compare with others... it was obvious to me that the levels of controls in many of them (particularly the South American ones) where less than expected.
Moreover, it surprised me the positioning of some of the ones here in the pacific: Tarawa (Kiribati) is the 17th busiest fishing port in the world, Rabaul (PNG) the 40th, Pago Pago (American Samoa) 67th, Majuro (Marshals) 72th, Honiara (Solomon Islands) 82nd, Pohnpei (Micronesia) 89th. And while I wonder if the results for Tarawa include Kirimati and Honiara include Noro.
In any case having 6 in the top 100 is very important reference for the work I do in the Pacific. As my colleague Tim Adams from FFA commented: "It would be even more useful for MCS/IUU work if it analysed the vessel traffic at each port (separating national- and foreign-flagged) rather than just the weight of fish landings. The workload in implementing port MCS measures is related to the number of vessels and inspections more directly than to the amount of fish"...
The authors themselves recognise that: "
The original objective of this study was to segment existing data on tonnage of fish landed (sorted by factors such as type of fish where possible), port visits (sorted by vessel flag-of-registration where possible), and other basic elements that reflect a port’s activity. Early in the study it became clear that such data were rarely publicly available. As a result, the ranking of the top 100 ports (or in the case of China, provinces) by landings tonnage around the world as presented here and in the online Supplement is the product of a lengthy analysis of multiple, incomplete sources. To the best of our knowledge it is the first ranking of its kind to be published in the modern era of commercial fishing.
I'm sure it would be further developed in the future, and is definitivelly something I would love to keep reading and working on.
Here is the ranking: