Flags of Convenience (FOC) are considered to be a major obstacle in the fight against IUU fishing. By using an FOC, IUU fishers seek to conceal their operations or avoid international laws and responsibilities by operating their vessels under the flag of a country that currently either can not or does not exert effective control over the oeprations of its flagged vessels. In this way the operators of FOC vessels circumvent the international rules designed to conserve and manage marine resources.
The report, 'The Changing Nature of High Seas Fishing: How flags of convenience provide cover for IUU fishing', launched on 2 November 2005 in Hobart, exposes the magnitude of the FOC problem in world fisheries. The report was prepared by two independent consultants, Matthew Gianni and Walt Simpson, and was co-sponsored by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the World Wide Fund for Nature and the International Transport Workers’ Federation.
The report shows that FOC vessels are prominent in fishing and transhipment activities. They present a large and growing problem that seriously inhibits the ability of State and Regional Fisheries Management Organisations to manage fisheries and tackle IUU fishing.
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