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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In the four years since it began, an initiative to detect, suppress, and combat illegal fishing and other fisheries crimes around the world is paying dividends. Project Scale—an effort launched in February 2013 by the international police organization Interpol, in collaboration with the government of Norway and The Pew Charitable Trusts—has helped send some illegal fishing operators... Read More
More good news in the global fight to end illegal fishing: Crews operating outside the law will have a tougher time landing their catch in Central America and the Dominican Republic in coming years after leaders of eight countries in the region agreed to work together to tighten port standards for verifying the legality of incoming fish. Ministers and fisheries directors from those countries also... Read More
This 90-second video was produced by The Pew Charitable Trusts for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s “100&Change” competition, which will award $100 million to fund a single proposal that promises measurable progress in solving a significant problem of our time. In this video, manager Julie Janovsky describes Pew’s proposal to combine... Read More