What we do

Aquascope combats Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. For this purpose we combine modern-day technology with traditional ship-based vessel surveillance measures.

IUU fisheries are one of the greatest threats to our oceans. The consequences that these criminal operations have on global fish populations, the ecosystem as a whole, for coastal communities and the socio-economic development are devastating. Estimated numbers of global IUU catch sizes show us that not enough is being done to uphold and enforce environmental law at sea. Alongside an overhaul of international law, there’s an urgent need for better, more efficient and cost-worthy technology to replace traditional monitoring systems.

Aquascope brings together technological experts, conservation groups, passionate individuals and governments to work on new ideas and provides them with the incentive and the opportunity to implement improved monitoring and enforcement systems against illegal fishing.

 

Fish have a value that far outweighs their value as food for human consumption. They play an important part in the world’s biggest ecosystem. Photo: Tim Watters

Fish have a value that far outweighs their value as food for human consumption. They play an important part in the world’s biggest ecosystem.

How we do it

Aquascope has teamed up with scientists and a range of experts to explore the technologies necessary to develop cost-effective marine conservation solutions. We collaborate with other conservation groups and governments to determine at-risk areas and feasible measures for their protection. We reach sustainable solutions by creating a win-win-win situation for all partners.

We strive to increase the proficiency and capacity to monitor IUU fishing in line with a standard suitable for today’s age of technology and information processing. Combining this with the implementation of though-out enforcement strategies will help to put an end to illegal fishing.

Aquascope is looking at land and ship-based monitoring schemes and systems capable of operation in different weather and geographical regions. Our field of work stretches from underwater gliders, hydrophones, high frequency radars, satellites to radio technology and beyond. This technology enables us to detect, track and monitor IUU fishing vessels even far from shore and make enforcement of the law possible.

 

Large scale fishing vessels, like this IUU vessel, stay out at sea for several months. Consequences are profits for the illegal industry, depletion of fish populations and the destruction of ecosystems. Photo: CCMLAR

Large scale fishing vessels, like this IUU vessel, stay out at sea for several months. Consequences are profits for the illegal industry, depletion of fish populations and the destruction of ecosystems.

Who we are

Aquascope is a charitable non-governmental, non-profit organisation registered in Germany. Since early 2015 our dedicated team of international staff and volunteers has been working on new means to combat IUU fishing.

Aquascope was founded by long-standing friends and professionals in marine conservation. After many years of fighting for the protection of the intriguing, and still largely unknown, world beneath the waves, the alarming menace by IUU fisheries became plainly apparent. Looking around for counter-IUU measures in place, no satisfactory solutions were found. Aquascope was started to fill this void by developing innovative monitoring and enforcement systems.

Within Aquascope we combine maritime skills and knowledge, technological capabilities with expertise on the topic of IUU fishing and our many years of experience in marine conservation. With that we are able to tackle the problem on several levels by developing efficient, thought out and feasible solutions and by being able to follow through projects.

Our team has been steadily growing. We are moved by the amount of supporters and partners that joined us over the last months. The encouraging response makes us confident that we address the concerns of many and will succeed in clamping down on IUU fisheries.

Aquascope works across borders and oceans, taking great pride in our work and passionately striving towards achieving the goals set out in our mission statement. The Aquascope team is delighted to invest their time and skills into the protection of marine wildlife!

 


 

Not just fish, but as well mammals like these playful sea lions are threatened by the consequences of illegal fishing. Photo: Tim Watters

Not just fish, but as well mammals like these playful sea lions are threatened by the consequences of illegal fishing.

A message from our Executive Director

Welcome to Aquascope,

for thousands of years humankind has taken comfort in the belief that our oceans are inexhaustible. It is only in recent decades that the veil of our collective delusion has lifted to reveal a shocking truth. Worldwide fish populations are in a rapid decline; whole regions are officially overfished and a growing list of marine species is being declared threatened or extinct.

Despite repeated warnings about the severity of this situation from scientists and conservationists the destructive exploitation of our oceans continues largely unabated. One of the biggest obstacles for the conservation of marine areas is illegal fishing. Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing accounts for up to a third of global fish landings, while incalculable amounts of dead or dying bycatch species are discarded back into the ocean. This presents significant challenges for the survival of threatened species and habitat and makes sustainable legal fisheries utopian.

IUU fishing is no minor offence; it is poaching in one of its purest forms – an activity closely tied to transnational and organised crime. It requires global efforts and cleverly devised, widely spread monitoring and enforcement systems to stop. As a coalition of concerned and responsible citizens of this planet, we at Aquascope have vowed to take up the fight against this ecological and economic fiasco.

This is not just about the future of fish, but also the future of humankind. Fulfilling a role that far outweighs its value as a food for human consumption, marine wildlife is part of the biggest connected ecosystem on our planet – an ecosystem that absorbs 50% of the CO2 we produce and supplies us with up to 80% of the oxygen we breathe. This ecosystem is comprised of complex processes and dynamics that we don’t fully understand and therefore cannot afford to overexploit.

What kind of future do we wish for? A livable future for humankind without life in the seas is impossible. The fight against IUU fisheries and, ultimately, for the protection of our oceans, is therefore of global concern. This is a battle we must fight and it is a battle we simply cannot afford to lose.

As a marine conservationist, biologist and diver who has spent many years underwater and at sea, the ocean with its immense diversity of creatures, will forever hold a special place in my heart. Nothing fills me and the dedicated international team at Aquascope with more pride and purpose than to fight for the protection of the marine wildlife and ecosystems.

I invite you to accompany and support Aquascope and to take part in our mission for a living world beneath the waves. For millions of years the oceans have been the source of all life on this planet, it is high time we gave something back.

Pia Klemp

Executive Director Aquascope

Pia Klemp
Pia KlempExecutive Director

 

Mission statement

Aquascope is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation that seeks, develops and utilizes optimal measures to tackle Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Aquascope acts as a platform on which modern-day technologies are combined with traditional ship-based surveillance measures to facilitate the exchange of knowledge, skills and information. By channeling a range of different technologies and expertise, our team streamlines ideas to create innovative, efficient and cost-effective ways to enforce environmental law.

Additionally, Aquascope initiates collaborations between organisations, governments and individuals with a focus on casting a coordinated web over the operations of IUU fishing on the High Seas, in Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) and in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

We aim to protect marine life and habitats by standing firm in our commitment to fight poachers and criminal fishing operations.

Our guiding principle is to afford the utmost protection to the world’s oceans.

 

All regions of the seas are affected by illegal fisheries and deserve our protection.

All regions of the seas are affected by illegal fisheries and deserve our protection.

Mandate

Exercise your rights as a model custodian of the planet.

Beyond our moral and ethical obligation to stop criminal fishing operations and protect our oceans, we have the global community and international legislation on our side.

Aquascope is guided by the United Nation World Charter for Nature. The charter presents a code of conduct for the protection and preservation of our planet’s natural systems, with a focus on the balance and quality of nature and the conservation of natural resources. Additionally, it gives permission and responsibility to organisations, individuals and groups to safeguard and conserve nature in accordance with the principles outlined within.

Access the full document

The UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) identifies the crucial role that individuals and organisations play in the conservation of nature. The Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention) emphasizes the importance and rights of citizens and NGOs in protecting the environment.

Access the full document


Aquascope also works in accordance with the following international declarations, conventions and laws:

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea – UNCLOS

United Nations Fish Stock Agreement

Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment

Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals – CMS

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora – CITES

 

Illegal fishingis no trivial offence. IUU ships are modern and work on an industrial level. Photo: Mike Markovina/Marine Photobank

Illegal fishingis no trivial offence. IUU ships are modern and work on an industrial level.