[Source: Stop Illegal Fishing] Faked, false or forged documents linked to vessel identity are widely used by illegal operators. They are used to hide fishing and operational history and activity, reduce costs, misinform and confuse licensing, flagging and inspection authorities, cover up a history of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and evade sanctions when caught violating regulations or breaking laws.
Stop Illegal Fishing, Trygg Mat Tracking and their partners have produced the ‘Document Verification Manual: Vessel Identity’ to provide practical training and case studies illustrating how document verification has been used to uncover cases of illegal fishing.
In 2018, INTERPOL warned about resurgence in fraudulent abuse of flag State registries for fishing vessels, which confirmed what had been observed through investigations by the FISH-i Africa and West Africa Task Forces and internationally in the past years. Yet, little information is available on vessel identity fraud and how this widespread fisheries crime is facilitated by document forgery.
This manual focuses on vessel identity, nationality, authorisation status, operational history, and related fraudulent practices, and primarily looks into what a vessel “says” about itself, rather than what the catch “says”. The use of genuine documents obtained by corruption or deception, documents that have been doctored, fake documents that have been created and the use of documents incorrectly are considered.