Organized crime in the fisheries sector threatens a sustainable ocean economy

Emma Witbooi*, Kamal-Deen Ali, Mas Achmad Santosa, Gail Hurley, Yunus Husein, Sarika Maharaj, Ife Okafor-Yarwood, Inés Arroyo Quiroz, Omar Salas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)
18 Downloads (Pure)


The threat of criminal activity in the fisheries sector has concerned the international community for a number of years. In more recent times, the presence of organized crime in fisheries has come to the fore. In 2008, the United Nations General Assembly asked all states to contribute to increasing our understanding the connection between illegal fishing and transnational organized crime at sea. Policy-makers, researchers and members of civil society are increasing their knowledge of the dynamics and destructiveness of the blue shadow economy and the role of organized crime within this economy. Anecdotal, scientific and example-based evidence of the various manifestations of organized crime in fisheries, its widespread adverse impacts on economies, societies and the environment globally and its potential security consequences is now publicly available. Here we present the current state of knowledge on organized crime in the fisheries sector. We show how the many facets of organized crime in this sector, including fraud, drug trafficking and forced labour, hinder progress towards the development of a sustainable ocean economy. With reference to worldwide promising practices, we highlight practical opportunities for action to address the problem. We emphasize the need for a shared understanding of the challenge and for the implementation of intelligence-led, skills-based cooperative law enforcement action at a global level and a community-based approach for targeting organized crime in the supply chain of organized criminal networks at a local level, facilitated by legislative frameworks and increased transparency.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
Early online date11 Nov 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Nov 2020


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