Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing ignored by FATF and financial community

The financial community, led by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), should show the same degree of commitment to preventing environmental and ecological damage to the oceans as it does to the charismatic species on land according to researchers at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).

Unlike the poaching of wildlife, they say the destruction of the oceans is out of sight and rarely draws the same degree of celebrity attention as that received by rhinos, elephants and pangolins, even though the impact of oceanic destruction has the potential to be far more threatening.

FATF ignores IUU fishing

Researchers Tom Keatinge and Lauren Young explain how the FATF, initially in 2017 via its Asia-Pacific Group (AGP) regional body, and later in 2020 in its own right have started to look at the illegal wildlife trade (IWT).

But while the FATF expanded its focus on IWT in 2021 to include money laundering risks from illegal logging, illegal mining and waste trafficking, the global financial watchdog “mysteriously ignored” illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

“Notwithstanding protests at this absence, the global community of financial crime policymakers demurred; and indeed, despite updating its standards to include an expanding list of environmental crimes as additional designated categories of offence, the FATF continues to ignore IUU fishing”, the researchers conclude.

G7’s limited interest

They say other global bodies, such as the G7, have also shown limited interest, amounting to just a passing reference to the illicit finance dimension of IUU fishing in the environment and interior ministers communiqués during the 2021 UK G7 presidency.

“Yet none of this amounts to the leadership required to galvanise the international financial crime community to the extent necessary – leadership that only the FATF can offer, given its mandate to assess the financial crime response of jurisdictions around the world,” the researchers say.

They do however see a “glimmer of hope”, once more led by the APG that has devoted a brief focus chapter on the illicit financial flows from IUU activities in its 2022 APG Yearly Typologies Report.

The commentary by director of RUSI’s Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies, Tom Keatinge, and research fellow, Lauren Young, research fellow, organised crime and policing, Swimming in Dirty Money: It’s Time to Dive Below the Surface can be found here.

The 2022 APG Yearly Typologies Report published in August 2022 can be downloaded here.

 



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