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
Pioneering technology to help end illegal fishing
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The U.K. government announced designation of the Pitcairn Islands in March 2015, contingent on the ability to put in place an effective monitoring system. Read More
LONDON—The Pew Charitable Trusts joins the Pitcairn Island Council in praising Her Majesty’s government for today’s designation of 320,465 square miles (approximately 830,000 square kilometres) as a marine reserve in the remote waters surrounding the Pitcairn Islands in the South Pacific Ocean. Read More
The United Kingdom announced the designation of Pitcairn Islands Marine Reserve in the South Pacific Ocean on September 15, 2016. The Pitcairn reserve is now the world’s second largest marine protected area—measuring a total of 320,465 square miles (830,000 square kilometers). Read More