Global Campaign to End Illegal Fishing

Illegal fishing undermines efforts to control overfishing and poses a major threat to the health of fish stocks and other ocean life. Some regional fisheries management organizations have created “black lists” to identify vessels that engage in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. But because these lists are not shared, the vessels simply move to another area of the ocean and continue fishing, change their names and flags, or fish in unregulated waters. Though most governments are opposed to IUU fishing, they are rarely willing to dedicate resources to constrain illegal fishing.

Pew supports measures that combat IUU fishing and ensure a sustainable future for marine life across our oceans. In November 2009, the Conference of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization adopted the “Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing,” which requires port States to inspect fishing vessels and close their harbors to ships operating illegally. In addition to championing the fast adoption of this landmark international treaty, Pew seeks to develop an information-sharing system to track illegal operators and effective mechanisms that will enable developing countries to implement the Agreement.

For more information, visit the Combating Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing campaign.


  • How to End Illegal Fishing

    Dec 10, 2013 - From coastal waters to the high seas, criminals are robbing the oceans and jeopardizing communities, economies, and the environment. It’s the great ocean heist, and here’s how to stop it.

  • Illegal Fishing, Your Number's Up!

    Aug 15, 2013 - The Pew Charitable Trusts is committed to a global effort to end illegal, unreported, and unregulated, or IUU, fishing. Crucial to that mission is transforming illegal fishing from a low-risk, high-reward endeavor into a high-risk, low-reward activity through improvements in the monitoring, control, and surveillance of fishing and the enforcement of fisheries laws and policies.

  • A Methodology for Capacity Needs Assessments Towards Implementation of the Port State Measures Agreement

    Jun 21, 2010 - Detailed methodology on how to undertake a capacity needs assessment for the implementation of port state measures in developing countries.  The final report shall be released on July 20, 2010.

  • Preliminary Findings from a Gap Analysis

    May 26, 2010 - A comparison of RFMO port state measures with the FAO agreement on port State measures to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing

  • Closing Loopholes: Getting Illegal Fishing Under Control

    May 26, 2010 - The current system of port State control lacks transparency, accountability and the global reach to punish fishers who are illegally emptying our oceans.

  • Port State Performance: Putting Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing on The Radar

    May 26, 2010 -  The Pew Environment Group has undertaken the first comprehensive evaluation of the effectiveness of current port State measures and the implementation challenges that port States face. The study also assesses the central role that Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) play in the process. The research focuses on port State measures directed specifically at vessels on the IUU-vessel lists adopted by RFMOs - vessels that have been found to engage in or support IUU fishing.  Imposing sanctions on these vessels at port aims at rendering their operations less profitable and lucrative.

  • Finding Sustainability: Recommendations to the U.N. Fish Stocks Review Conference

    May 26, 2010 - Despite efforts by the 18 regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) and individual governments to manage fisheries since the last session of the U.N. Fish Stocks Agreement (UNFSA) Review Conference in 2006, the vast majority of stocks managed by RFMOs are still either overexploited or depleted. A 2010 peer-reviewed evaluation of RFMO performance determined that two-thirds of stocks fished on the high seas and under RFMO management are either depleted or over-exploited.  Similarly, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), ‘‘In the case of straddling stocks and of other high seas fishery resources, nearly two-thirds of the stocks for which the state of exploitation can be determined were classified as overexploited or depleted.” These data confirm that RFMOs are failing to sustainably manage the high seas fisheries for which they are responsible and for which they should be accountable.

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New Study on Illegal Fishing

A Pew study published on Science finds that governments have been ineffective in stopping illegal fishing.

Read Closing Loopholes: Getting Illegal Fishing Under Control 

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