By Deborah Zabarenko
Fish piracy - seafood caught illegally, not reported to authorities or outside environmental and catch regulations - represents as much as $10 billion to $23 billion in global losses each year, a non-profit conservation group estimated Wednesday.
Because pirated fish is sold on black markets, specifics of the economic impact are tough to decipher. But Oceana, a Washington-based organization, looked at the records of fish catches by country as reported to the United Nations, then compared those statistics to seafood sales in various world markets.
When these numbers didn't match up, the group estimated the amount lost through fish piracy, a practice that U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration administrator Jane Lubchenco has called "one of the most serious threats to American fishing jobs and fishing communities."
The report said illegal trade could account for 11 million to 25 million metric tons of seafood, a minimum of 20 percent of seafood worldwide.
Illegal fishing targets some of the most expensive species, including shrimp, fugu pufferfish, lobster, whole abalone and sea urchin uni. Penalties are often a fraction of potential profit, the report found. In one U.S. case, an illegal catch worth up to $1 million brought a $3,5000 penalty.
The report estimated that illegal trade threatens 260 million jobs dependant on marine fisheries. More....