Briefly: The government of Vanuatu, a small Pacific Island country, has appealed to London’s High Court over mackerel fishing rights it alleges were unjustly acquired by a Panamanian company.
Something’s fishy: Suspicion first arose when a Vanuatu envoy at a summit in Ecuador was surprised to meet two men also claiming to represent Vanuatu.
It turns out the men were linked to an obscure company which Vanuatu alleges obtained fishing rights without the government’s knowledge, and at prices far below market value (less than 1% what Vanuatu was hoping to earn).
The case is due to be heard in court as early as this June.
Intrigue’s take: Seafood is a massive $247B industry, providing up to 90% of the protein and up to 98% of government revenues in some Pacific Islands. So there’s a lot at stake.
Yet the 23 Pacific Island nations have exclusive economic zones that span an area the size of Africa. That’s a lot of ocean for small countries to police.
But you know what? The latest UN report suggests Pacific Islands are doing a pretty bang-up job, thanks to better regulations, monitoring and surveillance.
Also worth noting:
- Last year, the US and its allies launched ‘Partners in Blue Pacific’, an effort to back Pacific progress on issues like illegal fishing and climate.
- Two Chinese crews are in Vanuatu facing illegal fishing charges, an accusation levelled periodically at China’s distant-water fishing fleet.