Working to ensure a sustainable future for our oceans by combating illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing around the world.
Illegal fishing is a major threat to the sustainability of the world’s fisheries. Some estimates are that illegal and unreported fishing accounts for up to $23.5 billion worth of fish annually worldwide, and up to 20 percent of all of the wild marine fish caught globally. In some parts of the world, the situation is even more dire. For example, fisheries scientists estimate that illegal fishing accounts for up to 40 percent of fish caught in West Africa.
Pressure on the world’s fish stocks is at an all-time high. Fishing fleets utilize modern technology and massive vessels to fish in places that until recently were out of reach because they were too deep, remote, or dangerous to exploit.
Fleets now pursue and catch fish in virtually every part of the world’s ocean. Massive processing vessels—floating factories that process, freeze, and transport fish in huge quantities—allow fishing vessels to offload catch at sea and continue fishing with alarmingly little downtime. The result is what some call “the last buffalo hunt”—too many fishing vessels chasing a dwindling number of fish that have nowhere to hide.
Most industrial fishing operations act within the law, but some take to the seas fully intending to steal fish. They do this in various ways, including failing to report catch, using illegal fishing gear, fishing without licenses, and even painting new names on their vessels while at sea to avoid detection by authorities. And they do it wherever they think they can get away with it, both within the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of coastal states and on the high seas. In many cases, the theft is made easy by patchwork regulation of fishing areas and weak enforcement at sea and in ports.
Work continues on multiple fronts around the globe
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The Caribbean island nation of Cuba has joined 23 other governments, including the European Union, in becoming an official party to the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA)—an international treaty designed to stop illegally caught fish from entering the global seafood market. In ratifying the agreement, Cuba helps advance the global effort to end illegal fishing. Read More
The South American nation of Guyana has joined 22 other governments in ratifying the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA), the international treaty intended stop illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Read More
Strong leadership is critical in the fight against illegal fishing. In 2015, European Union leaders continued to use their successful red and yellow card system. Under this system, countries that fail to enforce fisheries rules first receive a yellow card—a warning—and if they fall short in making changes, they are then issued a red card, barring them from exporting seafood products... Read More