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World’s largest maritime ships database joins fight against pirate fishing

09 December 2020 Guy Sear

IHS Markit's extensive Sea-web database now highlights vessels with ties to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

This advancement was facilitated through a collaboration between IHS Markit and the non-profit organisations Oceana and Trygg Mat Tracking (TMT).

Effective January, leading global business information provider IHS Markit will add information on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing to their Sea-web Ships database and their recently launched Maritime Intelligence Risk Suite. These platforms are subscribed to by over 27,000 users including marine equipment and insurance companies; ship owners, brokers, builders and managers; and port services and security, for a multitude of purposes including assessing and minimizing risk exposure. These businesses will now be able to easily check whether queried vessels have been formally identified by government authorities for their involvement in IUU fishing—an activity that is devastatingly harmful to the marine environment and is often linked to other maritime crimes.

The IUU fishing vessel data has been obtained through TMT's Combined IUU Fishing Vessel List, a comprehensive online resource that Oceana advises insurance companies and other businesses refer to when conducting due diligence checks on fishing vessels, to avoid contracts that support illicit activity. Providing an additional access point to this data is an advancement that both organisations and IHS Markit believe will raise further awareness of this issue among maritime businesses.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) is an important maritime issue that needs addressing for the future of our oceans. We have long-standing relationships and co-operation with both Oceana and Trygg Mat Tracking and are extremely pleased to extend this further by highlighting vessels associated with IUU in our databases used by insurance companies, ship owners, brokers and port services around the world. We hope that by increasing the visibility of IUU activities to our wider audience, it will allow them to make more informed decision about the vessels and companies that they deal with," said Guy Sear, Executive Director Maritime & Trade at IHS Markit.

"Oceana applauds IHS Markit for integrating IUU fishing data into their extensively used Sea-web platform. Companies with access to this platform will now more easily be able to assess the risk of their contracts being linked to and supporting IUU fishing, a situation that may put them in breach of legal obligations. Furthermore, these companies can play an active role in helping to deter IUU fishing through withdrawing their services from higher risk vessels." said Pascale Moehrle, Executive Director for Oceana in Europe.

"We are very pleased to extend our cooperation with IHS Markit and see the fishing vessels on the Combined IUU List integrated into IHS databases, ensuring that all users of their systems have access to this important information. TMT is monitoring the global industrial fishing fleet and the legality of their operations, and while the vessels on the Combined IUU List are of course not the only bad actors, they represent the riskiest of the high risk vessels in terms of their historic and current operations, frequent identity changes, opaque ownership and chances of re-offence" said Duncan Copeland, Executive Director for TMT.

The Sea-web database includes more than 30,500 fishing vessels that are registered with an International Maritime Organisation (IMO) number. Even if not all fishing vessels have IMO numbers, this number is free to obtain also through IHS Markit, the sole authority with the responsibility for assigning and validating these numbers. IHS Markit, Oceana and TMT encourage fishing vessel owners to register their vessel with an IMO number and increase not only the coverage of this database but the level of transparency within the fishing sector.

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