Environmental Justice Foundation
Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) works across the globe to tackle and bring international attention to forgotten environmental and human rights abuses. Synchronicity Earth has supported their work to build capacity for community surveillance to combat illegal fishing in West Africa.
Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a global problem worth $10-23.5bn annually. In addition to negative socioeconomic and environmental impacts, IUU fishing undermines legitimate attempts to manage fisheries sustainably. West Africa is estimated to have the highest rate of IUU fishing worldwide, losing over a third of its catch to illegal activities. The situation is exacerbated by a number of factors including weak governance, poor enforcement, lack of transparency, and shifting fishing effort from Europe and Asia.
West African countries suffer from high levels of corruption and poor governance, which poses a significant challenge. IUU fishing is also a highly fluid activity, meaning that it is easily displaced. EJF is working at a number of scales, from local communities all the way up to regional government forums and international agencies (such as the EU and World Bank) to address this.
EJF has worked in West Africa for over 10 years to provide training and equipment to communities to document and report illegal fishing. The group then links up this grassroots information with national and international networks, and works with governments to sanction offending vessels and seize catches. EJF’s work in Sierra Leone and Liberia has shown rapid results, with community information leading to widespread crack-down on illegal fishing vessels, including legal reforms, delisting and criminal proceedings, as well as the creation of Community Management Associations to give local communities more control and ownership over their fisheries.
EJF is now working to replicate its success on the ground in Ghana, as well as invesitgating activities of vessels in West Africa from a number of other countries, including Panama, Thailand and South Korea.