Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing

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Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing

    Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing st1 Chatham House Update and Stakeholder Consultation Meeting

Chatham House, 10 St James’s Square, London SW1 thTuesday 9 May 2006

    Chairs: Duncan Brack, Victor Bulmer-Thomas, Richard Tarasofsky (Chatham House)

I. IUU Fishing and the UK Action Plan

Introduction to the meeting

    Duncan Brack explained the purpose of the meeting: to provide a platform for the exchange of information and for the presentation of research studies, campaigns and initiatives, and an opportunity for discussion.

The illegal fishing website:

    Duncan introduced the website, which is intended to provide a central point of information on IUU fishing, including a regular flow of news, relevant documents, information on individuals working on illegal fishing and links to other bodies.

    Participants were asked to send any documents, news stories, links to relevant organisations to They were also encouraged to sign up for the mailing list and to set up profiles of their expertise work.

The PowerPoint presentation is at: (918k)

Ministerial Presentation Ben Bradshaw, Minister for Local Environment, Marine and

    Animal Welfare, UK

    The Minister focussed on the work of the High Seas Task Force and progress made since the launch of the report Closing the Net: stopping illegal fishing on the high seas on 3 March 2006.

    The UK Action Plan is published today and sets out action the UK will take to:

; Advance specific proposals internationally for example, take action to support developing

    countries to combat illegal fishing.

; Implement the High Seas Task Force’s proposals domestically – including entering into

    dialogue with UK Overseas Territories to explore how they might contribute.

; Facilitate the wider coordination and implementation of the report’s recommendations.

    The UK is committing approx $1 million, most of which will come from the Government’s World Summit on Sustainable Development Implementation Fund.

    A Coordination Unit has already been established to facilitate and monitor the implementation of the proposals over the next two years.

    There have been many previous initiatives to tackle IUU fishing that have not been successful, but the proposals in the HSTF report are focused on specific practical initiatives that are designed to:

1. Expose IUU fishing activities.

    2. Deter them.

    3. Improve enforcement against those responsible.


    HSTF members have made resource commitments and work has already begun; for example, in Australia work has started on a global information system on high seas fishing vessels. Work is also starting on enhancing the MCS Network, providing it with dedicated resources, an analytical capability and the ability to provide training and support, particularly to developing countries.

But the HSTF cannot succeed alone most of the proposals depend on the support of the wider

    international community. It will be important to work with, and develop, existing multilateral structures and processes, such as regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs). It is crucial that countries sign up to the UN Fish Stocks Agreement and the FAO Compliance Agreement; governments and NGOs should work together to address this and name and shame those who do not comply.

    Task Force members will also seek to direct funding towards developing countries that lack the resources to manage their fisheries, and action is already under way on a sub-Saharan conference on IUU fishing, and in specific countries, such as Sierra Leone.

In order to ensure that these actions get results, the UK’s coordination unit will initiate an IUU

    monitoring project to help target activity where it is most needed and where it can be most effective. Task Force members are determined to take real meaningful action to tackle IUU fishing and invite other international partners and organisations to join them in this effort.

The text of the Minister’s speech is at: (35k)

UK Action Plan

    Tim Bostock, Department for International Development (DfID)

    Global losses from IUU fishing are estimated to be $9 billion a year, but this figure probably hides a greater level of value lost to the world. There are a number of vested interests in maintaining the status quo and it is therefore important to establish a diverse group of organisations and individuals to tackle the problem effectively. Some of the poorest areas of the world are suffering the most. Losses in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, for example, amount to $140 million a year.

    The High Seas Task Force report includes a global implementation plan. The UK Action Plan is an integral part of this. The UK Action Plan covers a two-year period and has three strands:

    1. Leadership a Coordination Unit has been established in the Department for Environment,

    Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

    2. Contributions to specific proposals in the implementation plan

    3. Domestic actions and work in overseas territories.

    The Plan is being led jointly by DfID and DEFRA and is a consultative process in which people are encouraged to participate.

The Coordination Unit has four functions:

1. Overview and communications it is vital that the complex issues around IUU fishing are

    understood in order to tackle it effectively.

    2. Promotion and advocacy to potential partners.

    3. Fundraising.

    4. Monitoring better data is needed on a strategic level in order to persuade politicians to act.

    There are nine HSTF proposals (all the details can be found in the UK Action Plan); the UK has a specific interest in five of these:


Proposal 1: Strengthen the international MCS Network

    This is currently based at NOAA (the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and is an ad hoc group with members from 40 countries, plus the European Commission. Under this proposal dedicated resources will be targeted at training and technical assistance to fisheries enforcement agencies, particularly in developing countries, over a three-year period. There will also be support for an autonomous secretariat within the MCS Network. The UK will contribute funds to this development.

Proposal 4a: Governance and RFMO strengthening

    The UK will contribute funds to establish a six-member panel, based at Chatham House, with the purpose of developing a model to enable RFMOs to assess their own performance. The model will be developed from a comprehensive assessment of best practices worldwide.

Proposal 6: Support the greater use of port and trade measures

    It is widely acknowledged that there are problems with identifying the origin of catches. The UK is keen to examine measures, such as Lacey Act-type legislation, which will address this issue within the EU context. Research will be commissioned through Chatham House on demand-side mechanisms, and a stakeholder forum is proposed to develop ideas around the exclusion of IUU products.

Proposal 7: Critical gaps in knowledge and assessment

    The UK will work with NGOs and others to support the development of better data on IUU status and global trends, in order to develop more comprehensive knowledge for advocacy purposes.

Proposal 8: Developing countries

    The UK will support the development of a major programme to assist developing countries in combating illegal fishing. Proposed projects are for improving MCS in Sierra Leone and working with countries in sub-Saharan Africa, through SADC. The latter project was discussed in Paris at the launch of the HSTF and concrete proposals will be tabled in the near future.

Proposal 9: High seas vessel information system, ‘FISHVIS’

    FISHVIS is a publicly available database on the ownership and control of fishing vessels. This proposal is still in the scoping study stage and a major concern is funding.

The PowerPoint presentation is at: (2.6M)


    Overseas territories: A question was asked about how the overseas territories (OTs) were being included in the UK Action Plan. The Plan has three strands, the third of which includes addressing problems arising with OTs. However, it has to be recognised that they are autonomous and have their own governance structures. It was pointed out that the Falklands has developed a very good fisheries management system, which could be emulated by others, but cost is an issue.

Environmental impacts of IUU fishing: A concern was raised that this issue had not been

    mentioned in the Plan. The response was that it is not a question of ignoring it, but that the IUU component of ecological damage is relatively small on the high seas. Licensed vessels present a much greater problem and once they are behaving in an ecologically responsible manner, the focus will be on IUU fishing. There are some local ecological problems, for example, in Somalia dumping at sea is making the coast uninhabitable, and turtles are being destroyed in large numbers in West Africa by IUU vessels. Issues such as these need addressing urgently.

The RFMO panel’s review will be examining ecological criteria.

Addressing the needs of developing countries: A participant from the Cook Islands pointed out that

    they receive great assistance with VIS and database control, and that the main problem is negotiating trade agreements. They should be assisted with fishing and trading to promote self-3

    sufficiency, not bullied into opening up their waters to more powerful countries. The response was that, under the developing country proposals (Proposal 8), the impacts of trade-related policies will be examined with the Commonwealth Secretariat, resulting in ideas for political lobbying and other measures.

IUU as a developing country issue: A question was asked about whether other organisations see a

    link between fisheries and IUU as a developing country issue. In the UK, DEFRA and DfID have tried to ensure cross-government working, involving NGOs. Other EU countries do recognise they have problems with a separation of development issues and IUU fishing. This was also raised recently at an OECD meeting.

    Flag state controls: Concerns were raised that not enough was being done to clamp down on flags of convenience. The HSTF aims to take a multi-pronged approach. Vessels are simply the tools and it is always possible to find another flag state, therefore this has to be approached through governance and port state control measures.

    Governance and RFMOs: clarification was sought about what strengthening the RFMOs would mean in practice. This is a complex and sensitive issue. Currently, RFMOs act as individual bodies resulting in a haphazard approach to issues. The HSTF approach is about setting standards which can be applied across the board, through a model developed from best practice and international expertise.

II. The High Seas Task Force (HSTF) studies

Background to the HSTF

    Michael Lodge, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

    The issue of IUU fishing came to prominence in 1997 when the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) raised concerns at the FAO about the actions of toothfish pirates. This resulted in the 1999 Rome Declaration on the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. The FAO International Plan of Action (IPOA) on IUU was produced in 2001 and has been followed by a number of General Assembly resolutions.

    Many countries have adopted National Plans of Action (NPOAs), based on the IPOA, and OECD work has targeted the economic and social drivers for IUU fishing and recommended possible actions for RFMOs, port states and flag states. Ministerial commitments were agreed in Rome and Canada in 2005, which included strengthening the role of RFMOs, adopting and applying NPOAs, joining multilateral agreements and urging others to ratify them, and covering unregulated areas of the seas.

    However, there are a number of reasons why IUU is still a major problem, such as the failure by some to participate in international agreements, inadequate implementation at a regional level, a failure to operate flag state controls, and structural gaps.

    The HSTF was commissioned in 2003 at a meeting of the Round Table on Sustainable Development, based at the OECD. Members were the UK, Australia, Canada, Chile, Namibia, New Zealand, plus WWF, IUCN and the Earth Institute at Colombia University. It was agreed that direct action was needed to halt the worst abuses, that added impetus needed to be given to multilateral approaches, and that specific initiatives were needed to bring leverage to bear on particular aspects of the IUU problem.

    The result is a menu of proposals broken down into four core areas. These are:

    1. Core initiatives aimed at strengthening enforcement against IUU operations. 2. Initiatives aimed at strengthening good high seas governance.

    3. Useful areas of future research.


4. Others.

    (See the slide for the full list). Each proposal interacts with the others to form a comprehensive whole with the objective of exerting significant influence on the underlying problem. Areas not addressed include the impact of eco-labelling schemes on IUU fishing and trade-related issues. Both these areas need more work.

    All HSTF measures are designed to be consistent with multilateral agreements but aim to ensure that more rapid progress is made. The HSTF aims to provide leadership in the international debate but is not an exclusive body, and would welcome participation from others.

The PowerPoint presentation is at:


IUU fishing and developing countries

    David Agnew, Marine Resources Assessment Group (MRAG)

    MRAG has undertaken a review of the impacts of IUU fishing on developing countries for DfID with support from NORAD.

The two key objectives of the project were:

; An impact analysis of IUU fishing on developing countries economic, social, environmental,

    ecological, biological, health and nutritional.

    ; Empirical assessment of issues related to ecosystem and management.

    IUU fishing is a very complex issue and there are two approaches for estimating the extent of the problem a top-down approach based on the total world catch and big assumptions; or a bottom-up approach looking at individual case studies, which is time-consuming and where information is patchy. MRAG adopted the latter approach.

    Case studies were carried out in ten countries, mainly in Africa, because DfID is currently focusing funding on Africa: Angola, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Namibia, Papua New Guinea, Seychelles, Sierra Leone and Somalia.

    Economic losses from IUU or pirate fishing ranged from over $100 million in Guinea to negligible losses in Namibia.

    MRAG used a combination of bottom-up extrapolations starting with the results in sub-Saharan Africa, plus top-down comparisons in order to estimate the total global value of IUU catch, which they put at $9.5 billion. As a comparison, illegal logging is estimated to be worth at least $15 billion.

An assessment of other impacts revealed:

    ; Ecosystems the impact of IUU fishing on ecosystems is far less significant than the impact of

    the legitimate fleet, which needs to be addressed as a greater priority. However, birds,

    mammals, sharks and turtles are all being killed.

    ; Economic the loss of revenue and exports.

    ; Resources damage to stocks from over-fishing and compromised fisheries management. ; Social conflict with artisanal fishers food security and livelihoods can be put in jeopardy,

    The key finding was that the only significant correlation was between governance and a reduction in IUU fishing. Therefore, good governance is crucial it improves the ability of states to deal with

    IUU fishing. IUU fishing was most prevalent in areas where governance was weakest.

The PowerPoint presentation is at: (3.8M)


Evaluating flag state performance

    Andrew Serdy, University of Southampton / OceanLaw

    Historically states have been left to regulate their own high-seas fisheries, even where these were governed by treaty. Each state was responsible for ensuring that the actions of its vessels did not breach its international legal obligations. This is reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which gives the flag state exclusive jurisdiction over its vessels on the high seas. However, Article 116 of UNCLOS allows considerable freedom to fish on the high seas, making it difficult to exclude free riders.

    Customary international law obligations to cooperate are not sufficient because game theory dictates that those who do not cooperate gain an advantage. Therefore, no state must be seen to gain advantage by ignoring measure taken by others states wanting to abide by the rules have

    an interest in encouraging others to do likewise, hence the stress on flag state responsibility.

    There are three broad categories for assessing the performance of flag states:

1. Party to relevant treaties:

    ; UNCLOS

    ; UNFSA wide-ranging rules including flag state duties

    ; FAO Compliance Agreement for high seas stocks not covered by UNFSA

    ; Any treaty establishing an RFMO

2. Participation in RFMOs and FAO.

    ; Membership of, or cooperation with, relevant RFMOs

    ; Attending meetings of FAO, COFI and RFMOs

    ; Domestic implementation of RFMO measures monitoring, control and surveillance,

    and enforcement.

3. Domestic actions.

    ; National Plan of Action (NPOA) against IUU fishing

    ; Effective compliance mechanisms

    ; Regulating vessels on the high seas by prohibiting fishing without authorisation

    ; Monitoring and enforcement

    ; National register of fishing vessels available to FAO and RFMOs

    ; Standardised marking of fishing vessels.

The PowerPoint presentation is at: (104k)

A copy of the relevant UNCLOS Treaty extracts (articles 116-119) can be found at: www.illegal-

Fishing vessel monitoring and IUU fishing: solution or problem?

    Robert Gallagher, Navigs s.a.r.l.

    The development of VMS began in Portugal in 1988 and is now worldwide, with almost every fishing nation or coastal state either implementing a VMS system or planning one.

    VMS systems use a navigation system (GPS) linked to a satellite communications terminal, which delivers data (position, speed, course) to a fisheries monitoring centre, which processes and distributes the data.


    There have been modest improvements since 1988. The equipment is more integrated, information on vessel position is more accurate, and there is a broader choice of satellite systems. Perhaps most importantly, it now costs $2,000 to fit a vessel, whereas it used to cost $12,000.

    However, there are still very few examples of auxiliary services, such as catch reporting at sea, operating. Most catch reports are filed on landing. There is industry resistance to correlating where vessels are fishing and what they are catching, for commercial reasons.

The strengths of VMS are:

    ; Having real-time access to the position of vessels the US claim to have made successful

    prosecutions and seizures as a direct result of VMS (although there is some doubt about this)

    and fisheries compliance authorities have seen a deterrent effect.

The weaknesses of VMS are:

    ; The equipment on board a ship is usually chosen by, and remains under the control of, vessel


    ; Blocking the antenna from the satellite by cutting off the power supply is relatively simple,

    although these actions are fairly easy to detect.

    ; It is possible to input false position data and several cases of this have been documented. ; The necessary resources and expertise varies from one terminal to another.

    Those involved in data tampering include fishermen and fishing companies and there have been two cases of government organisations and one case of a marine electronics organisation being involved. The difficulty of tampering with the system depends on how fully integrated the navigation and communications components are. The possibilities of tampering have resulted in a number of measures:

    ; The EU has introduced a regulation requiring member states to specify ‘secure’ equipment,

    although what is ‘secure’ is not specified by any standards.

    ; Some manufacturers have made improvements to their equipment.

    ; There are incentives for licensed vessels to carry secure equipment, such as being able to

    spend more time at sea.

    There is no absolutely secure system. The key question is how to make it difficult enough for tampering not to be worth the cost.

There are some new developments on the horizon:

    ; Vessel Detection Systems (VDS) these use earth observation satellites to detect vessels and

    the possibilities of integrating this with VMS is very promising although, currently, the cost is

    high and availability is limited.

    ; Galileo system this is a verification channel, which will make the input of a false position

    difficult and costly.

    VMS is clearly part of the solution to tackling IUU fishing, but is not sufficient in its current form as the data is not 100% reliable. Unless there is an ongoing effort to upgrade and supplement it, the value of VMS will decrease and it will become part of the problem rather than the solution. (2.6M) The PowerPoint presentation is at:


    Eco-labelling: The issue of eco-labelling was raised this has been seen as very effective in the

    fight against illegal logging, but not mentioned in the context of IUU fishing so far. It was suggested that there is no hard evidence linking eco-labelling and good fisheries management and that many see it as a barrier to markets. There has been some movement on labelling, though not as a direct response to IUU fishing. It will act as a squeeze on IUU fishing by forcing companies and 7

    organisations to address the problem, as they cannot afford to be outside the ‘club’. There is a greater need for the harmonisation of catch documentation for a labelling scheme to be effective.

    EU competence: A point was raised about EU competence in combating IUU fishing through the Common Fisheries Policy. EU regulations have to be applied by member states but the performance is variable and this needs to be addressed. However, there was agreement that the EU has made progress in the last four years. There are a number of bilateral agreements, for example between Germany and the UK, and the UK and Norway, which help to strengthen the network. EU vessels are not considered a key problem in IUU fishing.

International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and flag states: One participant noted that the IMO had

    not been mentioned in the context of flag states and suggested that much of what the organisation does could help in this area. The responders were in agreement that the IMO was not helpful. The IMO sees the flag state issue as a corporate matter. The ideal situation would be to establish a link between states and all vessels flagged to them but this has not happened to date. Fisheries management is 20 years behind merchant shipping in terms of regulation; nobody knows where vessels are from and they can land in any port. There is an UNCTAD convention from 20 years ago on the regulation of vessels and genuine linkages, but there have not been sufficient ratifications to bring it into force. This appears to demonstrate a lack of willingness to acknowledge the problem. It was agreed that the IMO provided little help with these matters.

III. New developments

Implementation of the IPOA-IUU: A view from FAO

    David Doulman, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO)

    The International Plan of Action on IUU fishing (IPOA-IUU) was concluded within the framework of the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, and was adopted in 2001. It is a voluntary international instrument which promotes action at three levels: national (states), regional (RFMOs) and global (trade). The IPOA is a flexible instrument, recognising the differing abilities of countries and the different situations being encountered. It is supported by a set of technical guidelines for marine fisheries; guidelines for inland fisheries are currently being developed.

    The IPOA calls for action at all levels, by flag states, coastal states (not all flag states are coastal states) and port states, national action through RFMOs, and action to implement agreed market-related measures.

A 2004 survey of FAO members identified the main forms of IUU fishing:

; Use of illegal gear

    ; Harvesting banned or undersized fish

    ; Poaching by foreign vessels

    ; Unlicensed fishing operations

    ; Misreporting of catch/location etc

    ; Trade in illegal fishery products

The survey also identified the main constraints to combating IUU fishing:

; Inadequate resources (money and human resources)

    ; Weak institutions

    ; Poor policy and legal frameworks

    ; Weak appraisal systems for IUU fishing

    ; Inadequate MCS

    ; Corruption

    ; Lack of cooperation between states


    A key element in the implementation of the IPOA was the development of National Plans of Action (NPOAs), which were to be in place by June 2004. These not only give a good indication of what action is taking place, but also flag up gaps. The 2004 survey found a number of constraints to elaborating NPOAs. These included a lack of resources, a lack of political will, a lack of policy or legal framework, a lack of information, poor appraisal systems, weak national institutions and costly consultative processes with stakeholders. The requirement for consultation poses a particular problem for developing countries.

    A number of potential solutions were suggested in the survey, including additional resources (money and human resources), technical assistance, capacity building, improving institution/governance structures, and launching consultative processes (a new way of doing business), but the challenge is to put ideas into action.

    By May 2006, 19 countries plus the European Commission had NPOAs in place. A further five (including the UK) are in preparation or at the planning stage. The FAO has held a number of workshops, with participation from 99 countries, to build capacity through training in, for example, VMS technology to improve MCS, and the implementation of port state measures to combat IUU fishing. A longer-term programme for regional workshops is currently being developed.

    NPOAs are a key first step to addressing IUU fishing, but require legal backing to have any real effect, plus concerted follow-up action. One problem that needs to be overcome is ‘implementation

    fatigue’ resulting from the number of measures that states have been required to put in place to date. This is a particular issue for developing countries. FAO suggest that the Model Plan of Action for a Pacific Island Country could be adapted or form the basis for other states’ NPOAs.

The PowerPoint presentation is at:

The ‘Model Plan of Action for a Pacific Island Country’ can be found at in

    the Documents section.

    The changing nature of high seas fishing: how flags of convenience provide cover for IUU fishing

    Matthew Gianni

The presentation was based on research carried out between 1999 and 2005 for a report, The

    changing nature of high seas fishing: how flags of convenience provide cover for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. The research examined the Lloyds Register to establish an accurate picture of flags of convenience (FoCs).

Key findings were:

    ; In 1999 1,368 vessels were flagged to 14 FoC countries

    ; In 2005 1,267 vessels were flagged to 14 FoC countries.

    ; In 1999 the number of vessels categorised as ‘flag unknown’ was 1,104

    ; In 2005 the number of vessels categorised as ‘flag unknown’ was 1,656.

The top four FoC countries are:

1. Honduras 416 vessels

    2. Belize 241 vessels

    3. Panama 222 vessels

    4. St Vincent 74 vessels.

    The report also looked at the countries of residence of the owners of these vessels and found that 170 EU vessels were flagged to a FoC state, demonstrating that this is not only a problem for FoC states.


    There is continued widespread use of FoCs by large-scale fishing vessels, despite the adoption of the IPOA on IUU fishing. Large numbers of companies and nationals from ‘responsible’ flag states continue to own or operate FoC IUU fishing vessels. There is extensive laundering of FoC IUU catches, particularly of high value tuna, by transhipment vessels on the high seas.

    A separate report, High seas bottom trawl fisheries and their impact on the biodiversity of vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems: options for international action, examined the current

    governance of high seas bottom trawling. In 2001 the catch was 170,000-215,000 tonnes, representing 0.2% of global catch, and valued at US$280-320 million, or less than 0.5% of the value of the global catch.

    11 countries were responsible for 95% of the high seas bottom trawl catch and they are mostly OECD countries or parties to the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement (UNFSA). The EU was responsible for approximately 60%.

Deep-water bottom trawl fisheries on the high seas are characterised by:

; Serious depletion of target species

    ; Unregulated and unreported fishing

    ; No controls over new and exploratory fisheries

    ; Non-selective catch/by-catch

    ; No biodiversity protection

    ; Fishing inconsistent with the UNFSA and the FAO Code of Conduct.

Key recommendations to address the problem include:

; Market state restrictions the market is driving the problem.

    ; Forcing IUU transhipments to take place in port and allow legal vessels to tranship at sea,

    removing one of the cost differentials.

    ; Engaging associated industries, such as banking and financial institutions. ; Establishing a global database of large-scale fishing vessels.

    Additional issues that need to be considered include developing a more comprehensive consolidated RFMO list of vessels, reflagging FoC vessels to responsible flag states and making the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) more cost-effective and quicker in tackling flag state problems.

The PowerPoint presentation is at: (2.9M)

The following publications can be found at www.illegal-fishing.into in the Documents section:

    ; The changing nature of high seas fishing: how flags of convenience provide cover for illegal,

    unreported and unregulated fishing

    ; High seas bottom trawl fisheries and their impact on the biodiversity of vulnerable deep-sea

    ecosystems: options for international action

    Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs): Birdlife review and current work Cleo Small, Birdlife International Global Seabird Programme

    In 2004 BirdLife International carried out a review of RFMOs and IUU fishing. The organisation focused particularly on the six RFMOs that are the focus of IUU fishing. These also cover significant albatross breeding grounds and the aim of the review was to assess what the RFMOs are doing to minimise by-catch. These six are:

    ; CCAMLR Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources 10

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