An innovative new tech tool launched this week, looking to tackle illegal fishing through the engagement of the insurance sector. Insurers have committed to test the pilot scheme for the tool which is designed to counter the scourge of illegal fishing. The first fixed premium P&I facilities to join is Norwegian based Hydor AS with other global insurers poised to engage in the initiative.
There is a call for more insurers to join and “close the net” on illegal fishing. Illegal, unregulated and unreported – or IUU – fishing undercuts effective fisheries management, harms ocean ecosystems, and undermines food security. It is also associated with human rights abuses, slave labour and human trafficking.
The initiative has brought together global expertise in insurance, marine ecology and technology under the banner of the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance (ORRAA). It has developed a new tool which harnesses data to enable insurers to quickly discover whether vessels they are considering insuring are at risk of engaging in IUU fishing. Cutting off access to insurance makes it more costly for IUU vessels to operate and disincentivises operators from engaging in this illicit activity. It can also help insurers avoid costly claims and exposure to potential legal and reputational liabilities, making the business case for this initiative clear.
Vessel Viewer, developed in this pilot phase by Global Fishing Watch and TM-Tracking, in partnership with ORRAA, and in collaboration with ocean conservation group, Oceana and a number of global insurers, is a crucial piece of innovation which plays its role in the wider push to crackdown on illegal fishing. It is a knowledge tool and risk-assessment platform for the insurance sector which, by identifying risks and information gaps, will protect them from inadvertently underwriting unscrupulous illegal operators who now will have to shoulder all of their financial risk, making their operations unviable.
“With over USD$20billion of fish being stolen from the world’s ocean every year. We are calling today for additional players in the insurance sector to come on board and close the net even further on illegal fishing,” said Karen Sack, Executive Director of the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance.
Vessel Viewer is also being assessed to see how it could support the global seafood industry to have greater oversight of their source vessels, to meet industry commitments, and comply with growing legislation around due diligence and anti-IUU measures. The tool will build on efforts made with port authorities and governments to date. Additional potential uses of the data and features are being explored with both government and private sector partners.
“Removing access to insurance is one mechanism that carries significant potential in reducing illegal fishing globally,” said Tony Long, chief executive officer of Global Fishing Watch. “By making data transparent, the vessel viewer tool will allow insurers to crosscheck reported information on a vessel’s identity and activity, pinpoint information gaps and ultimately help them make risk-based decisions about whether or not to insure a vessel.”