International Community Cooperation Needed to End Illegal Trade of Marine ResourcesCatch of the Week
The illegal trade of protected marine resources stemming from high commercial demand is one of the areas on which the recently launched Asian Judges Network on Environment (AJNE) should focus, starting with consultations within the international community on which species are protected and which practices are illegal in which countries.
Patrick Duggan, trial attorney for the Environmental Crimes Section of the United States Department of Justice, said during a presentation that the judiciary of AJNE member nations should work together to keep in check the exploitation of marine resources stemming from overconsumption which leads to overexploitation of marine resources.
“The problem comes from demand of overconsuming nations and the willingness of supplier nations to sell,” said Duggan. “We in the United States are overconsuming, and the international community is overconsuming. You see these marine resources all over the world—in restaurant menus, in fast-food, and in jewelry, especially the black coral.”
Trafficking of these illegally obtained goods, said Duggan, should be an area of focus for AJNE as these exotic items and fishes are most probably sourced from Asia and the Pacific.
“That should be a role of (AJNE), the people who really are the stewards of these marine resources,” said Duggan. “Knowledge sharing is a start, with conferences and symposiums such as this.”
Duggan gave his presentation on the second day of the Second Asian Judges Symposium on Environment being held 3–5 December at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) headquarters in Manila, Philippines. The AJNE was launched on the event’s opening day, creating a platform to generate knowledge on environment challenges among judiciaries and the legal community in Asia and the Pacific. The symposium aims to bring together senior judges, environment ministry officials, prosecutors, legal professionals, and civil society participants to share updates on judicial innovations relevant to the environment and laws and law enforcement challenges in deciding cases affecting natural capital.
The United States, said Duggan, continues to formulate demand-side legal solutions, where marine resource laws restrict the amount of resources being moved, or restrict their movement (importation) altogether. Duggan said, however, that much international cooperation is needed among the countries through which these marine goods are being trafficked.
“If the catch is illegal from the place where it was taken, we can charge the person who brought it into the United States,” he said. “But we have to know if it is illegal from that country or not. Legal fish might look exactly the same as illegal fish.”
Duggan said illegally obtained marine resource may pass through several countries—from where it was caught or obtained, to where the raw material is shipped, to where it is sent for processing, and then to its final destination or selling point. There is also the problem of paperwork violations, where traders give false information about the source, description, or quantity of their catch.
The key here, Duggan reiterated, is knowledge sharing since countries through which illegally sourced goods pass have different sets of law. This, he said, is where AJNE comes in.
The 3–day Second Asian Judges Symposium on Environment seeks to build upon and consolidate past and ongoing ADB work under its Environment Law, Justice, and Development Program. Papers submitted during the symposium will be compiled and edited as a volume for publication, and the symposium will also serve as a venue for the consideration and possible adoption of an AJNE Statement on Environmental Justice.
The symposium partners are ADB, the United Nations Environment Programme, the World Wide Fund for Nature, the Supreme Court of the Philippines, and the United States Agency for International Development.
Story by CTKNetwork.org