Africa's Eastern seaboard countries lack vessels to patrol Indian Ocean waters to enforce maritime rules.
The east coast of Africa from Somali to Mozambique scored 45 out of 100 in the ranking for maritime enforcement while the island states of Madagascar, Seychelles, Comoros and Mauritius collectively scored 50.
The low enforcement scores are linked to lack of maritime domain awareness (MDA), which has a direct bearing on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
The One Earth Future Secure Fisheries programme attributed this to the low number of vessels with the capacity to patrol exclusive economic zones.
“This is troubling since MDA is vital to combating illegal fishing, fisheries-related conflict, creating maritime security and developing blue economy,” said Secure Fisheries senior programme manager Robert Mazurek.
The International Maritime Organisation defines MDA as effectively understanding anything that could impact on security, safety, economy or environment. Maritime domain relates to on, adjacent to the sea, ocean and navigable waterway, people, cargo with maritime-related activities.
Secure Fisheries said lack of port control is a challenge to MDA in developing countries.
Kenya has one patrol boat with the capacity to patrol beyond 12 nautical miles to crack down on illegal fishing activities in exclusive economic zones.
Tanzania’s patrol boats are not capable of venturing into deep waters to stop illegal fishing.
Comoros has a large exclusive economic zone, with 200 to 400 fishing boats, but has few resources for surveillance and control.
Mozambique has challenge of identifying illegal boats as the operators often present fake licences, conceal catches and remove or change the vessel identification numbers.