Ukraine Arrests Bureaucrats Facilitating Illegal Fishing on the Danube
As war with Russia continues to rage In Ukraine’s east, Kyiv’s State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) is battling corruption in the unoccupied regions of the country.
SBI announced last week.Two employees from Ukraine’s State Fisheries Agency were arrested, after it was revealed that they were providing cover for illegal fishers on the Danube river near Odessa and taking a cut of their illicit profits, the
“The officials demanded from the entrepreneurs engaged in catching fish to pay a monthly "tribute" for unhindered activity,” SBI said in a statement. “They also "allowed" fishermen to catch fish overtime, including species listed in the Red Book of Ukraine.”
For valuable catches such as the beluga sturgeon – the largest freshwater fish in the world, whose eggs make the valuable beluga caviar – the officers took a cut as high as 50% of the value of the catch.
According to SBI, one illegal fisherman paid more than half a million Hryvnia (US$13,600) in bribes for a year of fishing on the river with six boats.
Despite the war, SBI stressed that such crimes remain a priority.
“The State Bureau of Investigation continues its systematic work to combat crimes in the field of ecology, which not only harm the environment, but also cause millions of dollars in damage to the state budget of Ukraine,” SBI said.
Illegal, Unregulated and Unlicensed (IUU) Fishing has been recognized as a threat to both ecosystems and communities in coastal and river regions around the world.
IUU fishing represents as much as one fifth of the world's catch, and often spawns networks of organized crime both on the water and on land, as evidenced here in Ukraine.
“Money laundering, labor exploitation, corruption and forgery are a small sample of serious crimes commonly committed during IUU fishing today,” Interpol said in a 2020 report on the global state of IUU fishing.