The current depleted state of world fisheries resources renders fish highly valuable. This attracts transnational organised crime syndicates to the fisheries sector. The fisheries sector is vulnerable to organised criminal activity due to its transnational nature and associated law enforcement challenges combined with a porous regulatory regime. Organised criminal organisations thus regard fisheries crime as a low risk and high profit activity.
Fisheries crime refers to a wide range of serious offences along the value chain of the fisheries sector. Fisheries crime is thus not only associated with at-sea fishing activities but also includes various on-land activities such as the planning of fishing activities (financial, insurance, ownership and registration of vessels). It further includes a wide variety of related criminal offences such as: corruptly obtained permits and licences, document fraud, tax evasion, money laundering, kidnapping, human trafficking, and drug trafficking. It is wide-spread, usually transnational, largely organised, and has severe adverse social, economic and environmental impacts.
Fisheries crime is complex with organised criminal networks employing constantly changing business models and modus operandi. This demands cooperative, flexible law enforcement responses via action at appropriate and cost-effective points along the fisheries value chain.