Sarah Bedolfe
European ocean conservation group The Black Fish has a new way to get the public involved in ending destructive and illegal overfishing.

All around the world, people are expressing their support for more sustainable fisheries. We need improved resource management, and more and better marine protected areas – but there’s something else standing in the way.

Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated fishing – otherwise known as IUU – is a plague on the global ocean. It’s estimated that up to 20% of the world’s catch is IUU. The economic costs of these activities are in the billions and the social and environmental costs are much higher than that. IUU fishing cuts into the livelihoods of legitimate fishers who are left with less, and undermines conservation policies meant to protect fish stocks.

The team at The Black Fish is focused on ending this illegal and destructive fishing. You might have heard of this non-profit marine conservation organization, which is based in Amsterdam. Much like the One World One Ocean Campaign, The Black Fish believes in the power of film and media to educate people and inspire action to protect and restore our ocean environment. Last year, the team produced the short film “Losing Nemo” to explain the IUU issue.

Of course, awareness is just the first step. The Black Fish is now launching the Citizen Inspector Network, which harnesses the power of the public to monitor fisheries activity, and to address the problem of a shortage of inspectors in Europe.

Meet The Citizen Inspector from Van Origine on Vimeo.

To become a Citizen Inspector, participants attend training sessions to prepare them for the task of observing ports and collecting data. They then spend a week working as part of a Citizen Inspector Unit in a European coastal destination, visiting harbors and documenting what they see. In total, it’s a two week commitment.

When Citizen Inspectors see illegal activity, they document it with photography and in writing. This evidence will be organized in a database and can be used not only to pressure governments to create stronger conservation policies and improve enforcement, but can also be used to press charges against those violating the law.

With this program, The Black Fish empowers any ordinary citizen to take action and to do something meaningful for ocean conservation. So, do you want to use two weeks of vacation to do something impactful, while admiring Europe’s scenic coast? Or maybe you have friends living there who would want to get involved?

To learn more and apply to become a Citizen Inspector visit here. While the program is currently most accessible for European citizens, it’s an exciting novel approach to ocean conservation. With the growth programs like this, a new era of large-scale citizen action may be upon us.


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