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IUU fishing in BIOT waters








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    Catch and bycatch composition of illegal fishing in the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) 2013
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    In April 2010, the UK government declared the BIOT (British Indian Ocean Territory) a no- take MPA to commercial fishing. The MPA covers an area over 544,000 km2 and was created with aims of biodiversity conservation and creating a scientific reference site within the region (Mangi et al., 2010). Encompassing both coastal and pelagic areas, the MPA has doubled the area of ocean covered by MPAs worldwide and protects approximately half of the coral reefs in the Indian Ocean that are still classed as ‘high quality’. There are about 10 Important Bird Areas, with some of the Indian Ocean’s most dense populations of several seabird species. The area also includes undisturbed and recovering populations of Hawksbill and Green Turtles. Although commercial fishing within 200 utical miles of the islands ceased in November 2010, recreatiol fishing for pelagic and demersal species with hook and lines is still permitted in an MPA exclusion zone covering the territorial waters around the island of D iego Garcia. Some tu and tu-like species are caught as part of this fishery, but sharks must be released alive. Catches of this fishery have been falling in recent years with landings of 42t, 31t and 21t recorded in 2010, 2011 and 2012 respectively. Recreatiol fishing for persol consumption by visiting yachts is also permitted outside the exclusion zone within the MPA. Angling from the shore remains difficult to quantify with no recent data available, however previous surveys suggests is approxi mately 10-15t annually. There has also been illegal fishing operating for a number of years and Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing is considered as a significant threat to the ecosystem. The area is monitored by the BIOT Patrol vessel, the surveillance strategy of which is based on a combition of ecological risk assessment, historical fisheries data and intelligence on IUU activities. Beyond the blanket protection of all species through the declaration of the MPA, there are no sep arate tiol plans of action in place for individual species or species groups. While the primary purpose of the Senior Fisheries Protection Officer (SFPO) is the enforcement of BIOT regulations, this position has also provided an opportunity to collect biological information on the catch onboard vessels fishing illegally in the area. While information collected was very basic at first, this has become increasingly more detailed through the development of more comprehensive monitoring forms. In th is paper, catch data collected by the BIOT patrol vessel from 2007-2013 are alysed, with formal interview records with the arrested individual (the captain), comprising 37 arrests in total.
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    UK(BIOT) National Report 2013
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