Trawler involved in illegal fishing. (Photo: fish.govt.nz)
Global insurers withdraw financial support for IUU fishing
Friday, October 06, 2017, 22:10 (GMT + 9)
Major global insurers have pledged to tackle pirate fishing, an illicit practice that costs the world economy billions of dollars in losses each year and contributes to the destruction of marine ecosystems.
Allianz AGCS, AXA, Generali, Hanseatic Underwriters and The Shipowners' Club have sponsored the first global declaration of the insurance industry on the sustainability of marine insurance. The statement represents the commitment not to insure or facilitate the insurance being aware of blacklisted vessels for their participation in pirate fishing, also known as illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. This pioneering initiative was presented in Malta at Our Ocean Conference, an international meeting of leaders from around the world organized this year by the European Union.
IUU fishing is an unresolved international problem. IUU fish catches are estimated to range between 11 and 26 million tonnes per year and are worth between USD 10,000 and 23,500 million.
Those involved in this business skip the fisheries management rules and operate beyond the reach of government control. IUU fishing can wipe out overfished fish stocks and destroy habitats and marine ecosystems as well as harming law enforcement fishers whose fishing opportunities are reduced when illegal vessels target the same fish stocks as they do.
To address IUU fishing globally, Oceana and the United Nations Sustainable Insurance Initiative (PSI) have facilitated the development of a reference sector baseline on the sustainability of marine insurance - assisting ocean stewardship through marine insurance -- so that insurers can support efforts to reduce, and eventually eliminate, IUU fishing.
Pirate fishing exposes insurers to financial, legal and reputational risks. The declaration serves as a basis for firms to contribute to reducing and eliminating IUU fishing through training, awareness-raising, risk management and the actuarial function or process of assessing, defining and pricing insurance risks.
The declaration was signed by 21 major insurers and sector entities around the world. Oceana and PSI are calling on the companies in the sector, as well as interested entities, to sign up and support the declaration.
The UN's Sustainable Development Goal 14 - the UN's "healthy oceans target" - includes ending IUU fishing through countries' commitment to take action to eliminate it by 2020.
Following the declaration, Oceana and PSI will work with insurers to improve risk management and the guidelines followed by actuaries to reduce the risk of insuring ships and companies associated with IUU fishing.
Going a step further, PSI will work globally to achieve the sustainability of maritime insurance and strengthen the role of the sector as risk managers, insurers and investors, to contribute to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goal 14:
- As risk managers, marine insurers advise their clients, which can reduce risks, avoid losses and improve industry practices to help conserve the health of the oceans.
- As insurers, they provide coverage against risks to maritime and fishing fleets, including cargo coverage, helmet and machinery, and civil liability.
- As institutional investors, the insurers -- whether they exercise their insurance role or not -- can invest in companies that adopt and support responsible and sustainable maritime practices.