Illegal fishing and fisheries crime as a transnational organized crime in Indonesia

  • Ioannis ChapsosEmail author
  • Steve Hamilton


Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is increasingly drawing international attention and coastal states strengthen their efforts to address it as a matter of priority due to its severe implications for food, economic, environmental and social security. As the largest archipelagic country in the world, this is especially problematic for Indonesia. In this already complex geographical and security environment, the authors test the hypothesis that IUU fishing and fisheries crime(s) classify as transnational organized criminal activities. The article argues that IUU fishing is much more than simply a fisheries management issue, since it goes hand in hand with fisheries crime. As a result, although the two concepts are quite distinct, they are so closely interlinked and interrelated throughout the entire value chain of marine fisheries, that they can only be managed effectively collectively by understanding them both within the framework of transnational organized crime. To make this argument, the research utilizes qualitative and quantitative data collected from approximately two thousand trafficked fishers, rescued in 2015 from slavery conditions while stranded in two remote Indonesian locations: Benjina on Aru island and on Ambon island. The article’s findings also unveil new trends relating to the inner workings of the illegal fishing industry, in four different, yet interlinked categories: recruitment patterns and target groups; document forgery; forced labor and abuse; and fisheries violations. The paper concludes by confirming the hypothesis and highlights that IUU fishing provides the ideal (illegal) environment for fisheries crimes and other forms of transnational organized crimes to flourish.


Maritime security Illegal fishing Fisheries crime Transnational organized crime Human trafficking Labor exploitation Indonesia 



The authors wish to put on record our thanks to the Editor of ‘Trends in Organized Crime’, the anonymous reviewers and our colleagues Dr Pete Munro, Dr James Malcolm and Ms Laura Payne for their input, feedback and comments on the article, as well as to Jessica Aitken for her professional proofreading services. Collectively they have helped to significantly improve its focus.

Compliance with ethical standards


The opinions, comments and analyses expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarilyrepresent the views of any of the organizations with which the authors are affiliated.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Trust, Peace & Social RelationsCoventry UniversityCoventryUK
  2. 2.International Organization for Migration NorwayOsloNorway

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