The police organization Interpol warned that the global economic damage caused by illegal fishing -- related to money laundering, fraud and even human and drug trafficking -- exceeds USD 20,000 million (EUR 15,300 million).
According to Gunnar Stolvik, head of Interpol in illegal fishing issues, "illegal fishing costs the global economy up to USD 23,000 million (EUR 17,600 million) if revenue loss and damage to local communities are estimated."
During a seminar on the consequences of criminal networks on illegal fishing, Stolvik explained that about 20 per cent of all global offshore catches occur in a non-legal way.
Moreover, in many cases there are criminal organizations behind that are attracted by the high value of the catches, EFE agency reports.
In early 2013, Interpol released the SCALE Project, a global initiative to eliminate illegal fishing and related offenses.
This project is also aimed to disrupt routes and increase alertness, especially in nations and regions that are "vulnerable" such as West Africa, continued Stolvik.
He also stressed that it is "well documented" that some of the boats used in this illegal business, especially "in developing countries," make use of victims of human trafficking, reported América Economía.
In the seminar held in Vienna (Austria), Spain was represented by Juan Sainz Herrero, deputy director of legal affairs of the Secretariat General of Fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment (Magrama).
The official made reference to the unfair competition involved in illegal fishing for those fishing legally.
To avoid this situation, the country poses the fact that controls should be tightened on the origin of catches coming into the European Union (EU) from third countries.
"What Spain raises is the fact that the EU needs to do more because many of those states" that certify the origin of the catches "do not have the same means of control as the European states, which have satellite tracking devices and exercise real-time control of the catches," explained Sainz Herrero.
In February, Joshua Reichert, executive vice president of Pew Charitable Trusts, said "SCALE Project is an important component of a proposed global system to stop fishing crimes."
"Illegal fishing threatens the fishermen’s legitimate interests worldwide and undermines the global community's ability to properly manage fisheries so as to ensure a healthier future for this vital resource," he stressed.
By Analia Murias