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Protecting Sustainable Livelihoods with Innovative Border Security 

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing remains one of the greatest threats to sustainable fisheries, as well as the livelihoods of those who depend on them. Good border management can help States maintain security, protect biodiversity, and promote small-scale fishers’ access to productive resources, services, and markets. The Republic of the Marshall Islands has just 70 square miles of land mass surrounded by 750,000 square miles of ocean. Managing its borders is a mammoth task requiring sea patrols of hundreds of thousands of square miles of ocean borders.  

Majuro, Republic of the Marshall Islands. Photo: IOM 

Larry Hernandez Jr, President of the Marshalls BillFish Club, recognizes the crucial role that fisheries play in sustaining the livelihoods of those in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The potential overfishing of international vessels presents a serious concern, especially when smaller fishing boats are competing with large, highly adept vessels which can take in far greater quantities of fish via net. He understands the importance of linking border management and marine environmental protection in order to ensure that the fisheries are not over exploited.

 Fisherman in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Photo: IOM

Demonstrating how security interventions can take migration considerations into account to enhance development outcomes, the EU-funded 'Mainstreaming Migration into International Cooperation and Development' (MMICD) project implemented by IOM developed a video to showcase this #MigrationConnection. The video highlights the work of the Migration Information and Data Analysis System (MIDAS) funded by the Marshallese Government and supported by IOM.  

“We are a very busy port and a very small workforce. That is probably one of the biggest challenges now … We are using a system that the Government just invested in, which is called the Migration Information and Data Analysis System.”

Damien Jacklick, Director, Division of Immigration for the Republic of the Marshall Islands

The MIDAS border management system developed by IOM is the first of its kind in the Pacific region. Through the mobile system and the training provided, the initiative strengthens border management capacities to collect, process, store, and analyse relevant information in real time and across an entire border network. As such, MIDAS has helped the Government to more effectively monitor those entering and exiting their territory, while providing a sound statistical basis for migration policy-related planning.  

Border agents using the MIDAS system in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Photo: IOM

As we enter the “Decade of Action”, it is essential that innovative border security measures protect marine life as well the livelihoods dependent on those ecosystems, in order to reach the SDGs by 2030. Target 14.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) calls on governments and stakeholders to sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans. 

“If the larger system is not working properly, to monitor and maintain those resources within the open ocean, it will have an impact on our sustainable livelihoods which is one of the most important things for everyone living in the Marshall Islands.”

Angela Saunders, Head of Sub Office, IOM Republic of the Marshall Islands

Sunset over Majuro, Republic of the Marshall Islands. Photo: IOM