Combating Tax Crime and Other Crimes in the Fisheries Sector / by Francisco Blaha

Once in a while, I wish I was still working for FAO or some fisheries organization and administration, as to be able to assist to the right seminars, workshops, and meetings. Here is one of them even if I had the money to go to Paris and spend a week of my expenses plus assuming the cost of not earning during that time, it would be difficult to be accepted, just because I represent myself and typically you need to be employed by a government or body. But then I'm supposed to know and be updated on these topics for my work, is a independent consultant's conundrum.

This conference – hosted jointly by the OECD Committee, the OECD Task Force on Tax Crime and Other Crimes, the FAO and the UNODC will take place in Paris (13-14 October 2016)– will provide a platform to policy makers and stakeholders to discuss pressing legal and operational challenges they face in combating fisheries related and associated crimes. It aims to support international cooperation and build mutual assistance to combat serious crimes in the fisheries sectors.

The fisheries sector is vulnerable to criminal activities as many other sectors. Fishing intersects with criminal activities, such as human trafficking, smuggling of migrants, drug trafficking, document fraud, corruption, money laundering, tax fraud and occasionally terrorism financing. Sometimes these crimes are committed by those in the fishing industry, while at other times fishing vessels are used as part of larger criminal operations. All along the value chain, actors turn to criminality to maximise their profits, especially those derived from illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.

Illegal and unreported fishing is estimated to cost the global economy up to $23 billion annually. This figure does not include the cost of unregulated fishing, the cost of other transnational criminality or the resultant economic losses to countries, and so likely underestimates the full negative impact.

Illegally caught fish are lost to legitimate fishers, and reduce local economic activities related to fisheries. Furthermore, governments lose out on licensing fees and other tax revenues. This undermines governments’ ability to enforce policy, manage the pressure on fish stocks, promote food security, reduce poverty, fund public expenditure and support development activities.

National authorities can work together to combat fisheries crimes. Fisheries authorities, port authorities, customs administrations, coastguards, police and other law enforcement authorities can collaborate to reduce the overall cost of fighting fisheries related crimes by avoiding duplication of effort and enhancing capacities.

The conference will have the following sessions

Understanding Crime in the Fisheries Sector
Bringing together experts in combatting fisheries crimes from international organisations to map the diverse nature of crime in the sector.

Country Experiences
Policy makers and country experts will share best practices and solutions in their fight against fisheries crimes.

Improving Cooperation
Discover technical tools for gathering intelligence and enhancing co-operation among national agencies.

Closing Loopholes
Participants will identify priorities to remove legal and operational barriers for effective international co-operation in combating fisheries crimes.

Workshop - Detect and Investigate Crime
During a half day workshop, participants will receive practical and operational training on the detection and investigation of tax and other crimes in the fisheries sector.

Find more about it here