Working as a Citizen Inspector is no easy task but gives you the opportunity to directly assist The Black Fish in exposing illegal fishing practices in a meaningful and concrete way. Generally speaking the days are long, you will be working in a culture that you might not be accustomed to and investigations take a long time to produce solid evidence. There is no overnight success and it is the combination of thorough inspections, intelligence analysis and follow up visits that make the difference.


Good preparation is half the work. During your training great attention will be given to how you should prepare for the work. Typically Citizen Inspectors join for ten days, as part of investigations that run for 3 weeks. All inspectors are required to cover their own travel costs to and from the location of the investigation, though all take place within Europe. Accommodation, transport and food during the investigation period are arranged by The Black Fish.

An additional personal fee (roughly 350€) is required and will cover part of the accommodation and food costs. The Black Fish subsidizes your involvement by covering any additional costs. Being prepared is about ensuring you can cover these costs and that you have done your research on the country you are posted to.

Port inspections

The main activity that Citizen Inspectors are tasked with are port inspections. Such visits allow us to gather information on what types of fishing are prominent in specific areas, what species of fish are targeted and whether or not any notable bycatch or illegal activities can be observed. Port inspections can take place during the day or at night and tend to be carried out by 2-4 people.

Mesh measuring

Measuring the mesh sizes of nets (the size of a net’s opening) in fishing ports is an important way to establish what species may be targeted, as well as to ensure that regulations are followed. Fishing rules often specify what mesh sizes are allowed in different fisheries, hence measuring helps to document to what extend regulations are adhered to.

Market research

A lot can be learned from visiting fish markets in the towns and cities where illegal fishing is expected to take place. Most markets open at night, when fresh fish is landed and trading starts. In some cases the type of fishing gear can be determined from markings left on the fish but generally market inspections allow us to determine which traders sell which fish and if any are endangered or illegal.

Coastal patrols

From time to time, dependent on available funding, The Black Fish will operate coastal patrols. Making use of a variety of available vessels, such patrols are operated by Citizen Inspectors with the relevant maritime experience and qualifications. As smaller vessels are more readily available, coastal patrols will typically operate 1-5 miles out from shore, unless The Black Fish has access to a larger seaworthy vessel.

Intelligence analysis

All the evidence collected by Citizen Inspectors needs to be stored, categorised and analysed in detail. The Black Fish is in the process of developing a new process for intelligence analysis and will be working with Citizen Inspectors on continual improvement of this aspect of the program me.

Interested to get active? Apply for the training now!

The Black Fish is a registered charity in England and Wales, filed as charity no. 1159357. We use cookies to improve your experience using this website.
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