fishing boats on the ocean horizon at sunset

Project

Ending Illegal Fishing Project

Ending Illegal Fishing Project
Illegal fishing is a major threat to the sustainability of the world’s fisheries, accounting for up to 20 percent of all wild marine fish caught—up to $23.5 billion worth of seafood—according to a landmark study.

Most industrial fishing operations act within the law, but some routinely disregard the rules.  They do this in a variety of ways: failing to report catch, using illegal gear, fishing without licenses, and even painting new names on vessels while at sea to avoid detection by authorities. This activity cheats coastal communities out of food and income, skews scientific stock assessments, undermines law-abiding fishers, and deceives consumers who trust that the fish they purchase was caught within the law. 

Pressure on the world’s fish stocks is at an all-time high. Fishing fleets use 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. Allowing illegal fishing to continue could have dire consequences for the health of the ocean, and all who depend on it.  

Pew is focused on building a global system to combat illegal fishing by working with governments, fisheries management bodies, enforcement authorities, and the seafood industry to adopt and implement regulations, policies, and tools to improve information sharing, monitor activity, and deter and prosecute illicit operators..

Project Goals
  • Make vessels and their locations easily identifiable
  • Close avenues to illegal catch.
  • Engage and align the seafood industry.
  • Assess compliance with international instruments.
  • Boost policing ability through regional pilot projects.
  • Leverage technology and fisheries intelligence.
  • Assess the role of transshipment.
  • Develop new techniques to measure illegal fishing’s global impact.

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Our Work

Article

The Cape Town Agreement

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The Cape Town Agreement

Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing jeopardizes the health and sustainability of the world’s fisheries, undermines the livelihoods of law-abiding fishers, and is widely associated with crimes such as piracy, human trafficking, and arms and narcotics smuggling.

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How the Infamous Kunlun Fishing Ship Met Its Demise

Pew helped Interpol create a network for sharing information among nations fighting illegal fishing—and halted a ship’s infamous career. Read more in the most recent issue of Trust magazine.

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How the Infamous Kunlun Fishing Ship Met Its Demise

Pew helped Interpol create a network for sharing information among nations fighting illegal fishing—and halted a ship’s infamous career. Read more in the most recent issue of Trust magazine.

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Meet the Team

Learn about Pew's staff working to combat illegal fishing.

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Meet the Team

Learn about Pew's staff working to combat illegal fishing.

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Port State Measures

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Can one international treaty help reverse years of rampant and widespread disregard for fisheries laws and policies? We believe the answer is yes, but a treaty is only as good as the parties that ratify and enforce it.

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How Innovation Can Fight Environmental Crime 

What's the key to combating ivory trade, illegal fishing, and other environmental crimes? Interpol's David Higgins says global monitoring and high-tech tools can help, in Trend magazine. 

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How Innovation Can Fight Environmental Crime 

What's the key to combating ivory trade, illegal fishing, and other environmental crimes? Interpol's David Higgins says global monitoring and high-tech tools can help, in Trend magazine. 

Read essay