Flags of Convenience (FOC) are considered to be a major obstacle in the fight against IUU fishing. While not illegal as such, by using a 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 operations 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', shows that FOC vessels are prominent in fishing and transhipment activities. They seriously inhibit the ability of State and Regional Fisheries Management Organisations to manage fisheries and tackle IUU fishing.
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