Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) is a UK based charity established in 2000, that provides film and advocacy training to individuals and grassroots organisations in the global south, enabling them to document, expose and create long term solutions to environmental abuses. EJF campaigns internationally to raise awareness of the issues their grassroots partners are working to solve locally. Currently EJF is working with partners, environmental advocates, communities and journalists in Bangladesh, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Spain, and Uzbekistan.
TWF have supported EJF’s ‘Save the Sea’ Campaign; a direct response to the global threat of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU – or ‘pirate’) fishing. The aim of the campaign is to push illegal fishing onto political, corporate and public agendas through local, national and international action to combat IUU.
The campaign’s goals are to generate political support and action both in Europe and Africa (specifically Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Ghana); build capacity within civil society to combat illegal fishing and undertake high profile campaigning to raise public and corporate awareness of the issues.
TWF’s support for the programme commenced in 2010, and EJF have since employed 4 staff in Sierra Leone and 2 in Liberia and has purchased a boat, to expand a community surveillance pilot project and initiate a community sciences programme with the fishing communities. To date 17 communities have reported illegal trawler activity. Over half of the vessels were hiding their identifying markings, all others were foreign-owned and flagged. Feedback from community partners indicate that since the arrival of the EJF boat, IUU incursions have greatly decreased.
EJF is also working with local people to develop marine protected areas, and fisheries co-management practices – a socio economic study of artisanal fishers has been carried out.
EJF conducted a joint-patrol with the Sierra Leone Navy, with one vessel (a mother ship) heavily fined for illegal fishing. As a result of this the whole system of mother ships operating in Sierra Leone waters is now under review.
The campaign involves on-going monitoring of vessel movements and investigations to identify vessels linked to IUU fishing in West Africa to Las Palmas. On one occasion the European Commission took the unprecedented action of sending a delegation to the Spanish port and impounding the multi-million euro consignment of fish, which had come from alleged IUU operators in West Africa.
EJF has been invited by the Commission to provide evidence of IUU vessels to the authorities in both Africa and Europe, so that action can be taken to halt consignments and blacklist IUU fishing vessels.
In addition to the eradication of IUU vessels from the EJF project area in Sierra Leone, one of the most significant results of this campaign has been that Sierra Leone formally announced the closure of its Flag of Convenience registry to foreign-owned fisheries vessels. EJF’s work on the Save the Seas Campaign continues.