Want to know how we get seafood pirates? This. This is how. According to a report from TRAFFIC, rising demand for high-value aquatic products is driving illegal seafood harvesting off the coast of Africa. It seems that the Asian market is hungrier and hungrier for things like seahorse, sea cucumber, and fish maw. That means greater strain on law enforcement, coastal seafood populations, and communities impacted by the illegal (and unsustainable) trading. While I’ve not heard of any incidents of Somali pirates jacking seafood poachers for their catches, how surprising would it be to hear that?
Among the report’s key findings were that, “Along with shark fins and abalone, sea cucumbers and fish maws are highly-prized, luxury seafood products consumed as symbols of status or wealth. High demand, especially from east Asia, has resulted in an expanding marine product `gold rush’, with more than 80% of African coastal states now exporting fish maw to Hong Kong Special Administrative Region alone.”
Furthermore, many of the African coastal communities rely on the sustainability of these resources for revenue. Over-fishing any part of the aquatic biosphere can have disastrous consequences for this as well.