MRAG Asia Pacific (MRAG AP) is an independent fisheries and aquatic resource consulting company based in Brisbane, Australia. An international leader in the field of aquatic resource consulting, the company is dedicated to promoting sustainable use of natural resources through sound integrated management policies and practices. MRAG AP used Palisade’s @RISK software to estimate the volume, species composition and value of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Pacific Islands tuna fisheries. The outcome of their study provided recommendations on ways to strengthen monitoring, control and surveillance arrangements, to help minimize the future financial impact of IUU on Pacific Island economies.
Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a global problem that results in significant financial losses every year. Previous attempts to estimate the damages put the value between US$707 million and more than US$1.5 billion per year in the Western Pacific Ocean area alone. However, IUU fishing by its very nature is secretive, making it extremely difficult to accurately quantify the nature and extent of potential damages, as well as plan for effective Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) activities.
As part of a European Union-funded project, MRAG AP was commissioned to estimate the volume and value of IUU fishing in the tuna fisheries of the Pacific Islands region. The company took a ‘bottom up’ approach to the study, analysing detailed information at a local scale in an effort to build a more accurate picture of IUU fishing activity, particularly the variation in the nature and scale of IUU activity associated with each IUU risk in each main fishery. Estimates obtained in this way were then added together to develop an overall estimate of IUU catch and value.
According to Duncan Souter, CEO of MRAG AP, “The challenge with this approach is that it is time-consuming and information is often very patchy and hard to collect. There are therefore many gaps to fill that require analytical methodologies of varying degrees and complexity.” For this study, the company broke down the ‘IUU problem’ into discrete, quantifiable units – volume, species composition and value – before aggregating them up to produce a regional scale estimate.
“@RISK is very user friendly, considering the complex analytical techniques we were undertaking, and provided useful outputs that allowed clear presentation of our results,” said Souter.