The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation, an organization dedicated to the preservation of the ocean, hosts an annual student art competition—Science Without Borders. This year, the number of entries for the competition reached an all-time high—over 160 entries from students in 18 countries around the world.
The goal of the challenge is to raise awareness of issues impacting the ocean and the importance of ocean conservation. The theme for the 2016 contest was illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. IUU fishing is when conservation and management rules set by governments are not upheld by fishermen. This typically occurs when quotas (rules placed on the number of fish that are allowed to be caught) are violated. Because these rules are made based on information that is known about the size of fish populations, how long species take to mature, and other scientific knowledge, it can be extremely harmful to populations when regulations are violated. In addition, violating quotas on bycatch (marine life that is harvested inadvertently when fishing for a particular species), fishing in areas outside of a vessel’s legal jurisdiction, and evading taxes when landing fish in port are all common forms of IUU fishing.
Often these illegal practices lead to misreporting of catch—the total catch of fish in a region can be much more than what is reported. In West Africa, the catch is thought to be about 40 percent higher than recorded numbers, meaning there might not be as many fish as we think in the ocean. This threatens both fishermen’s jobs and our food security. IUU fishing also has a significant economic impact. In 2015, Malaysia lost about 108,000 metric tonnes of fish because of IUU fishing—equal to about $271 million worth of fish.
The images of the winner’s art depict the struggles that surround IUU fishing, and attempt to raise awareness of the harm it’s causing. You can see more of the submissions here.