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Cutting maritime insurance could help curtail illegal fishing, study says


Restricting insurance to vessels that engage in illegal fishing can help cut down the practice, says a study published Monday that suggests legally pressuring insurers to avoid insuring these vessels.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities undermine fishers and industry stakeholders’ efforts to “sustainability and equitably manage ocean resources,” says the paper, “Cutting a Lifeline to Maritime Crime: Marine Insurance and IUU Fishing.”

Published in the Washington-based Ecological Society of America’s Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment journal, the report notes that restricting access to insurance for these vessel operators was proposed by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2005.

Among the study’s recommendations is that insurers first check to see whether the vessels they insure have engaged in illegal fishing.

“There are indications that coverage acquired through commercial insurers is more common” among these vessels, says the report.

“Only a few insurers may be required to modify their policies and procedures in order to restrict access to insurance” by these vessel operators. Most of these insurers are within the European Union and more specifically the United Kingdom, says the study, which has 10 authors.

“This may simplify the legal aspects of addressing this issue, necessitating the interpretation and enforcement of only E.U. and/or U.K. law to stimulate meaningful procedural modifications within the insurance sector.

“Insurers could be legally pressured to restrict access to insurance” by these vessel operators through “clarified interpretation” of the European Union regulation on this issue, says the study.

“Furthermore, insurers could be encouraged to implement changes as a matter of corporate social responsibility,” says the paper. “Reformed practices within the insurance sector may have the potential to deprive support from this financial service” to these vessel operators and ultimately reduce illegal fishing, it states.

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