New Analysis Identifies World’s Largest and Busiest Fishing Ports

dutch harborMihael Blikshteyn

Dutch Harbor, Alaska

A Korean tramper—a large mothership that buys and stores frozen fish as fishing vessels bring their catches in—patiently waits just outside the town of Unalaska.

A new study ranks the world’s top 100 ports by volume of commercial fish landed, providing another vital layer of knowledge for assessing fishing vessel activity at ports around the globe. The information fosters a better understanding of where what are known as Port State Measures can be most effective in deterring illegal fishing and preventing illicit catch from entering the market.

Commissioned by Pew, the study “Fish Landings at the World’s Commercial Fishing Ports” includes a database with information from 948 individual ports in 47 countries. The Journal of Ocean and Coastal Economics recently published the results of the work led by Tim Huntington, founding director of Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management Ltd., a consulting firm based in the United Kingdom.

Commercial fishing operations use these ports not only to land their catch but also to get access to the services and supplies that fishing and transshipment vessels need to sustain their operations. Fishing vessels that carry illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) catch use these ports as well. That means that some ports, whether their managers know or not, serve as conduits for landing illicit fish.

In 2009, in an effort to deter IUU fishing activities, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization adopted the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, commonly called the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA). Countries that are parties to the treaty agree to exert greater control at their ports to detect IUU catch before it can be offloaded from vessels. That helps prevent the catch from entering the world’s markets. Still, the lack of reliable data on which ports are the largest and busiest has been a major challenge for authorities in determining where to dedicate resources.

The new study and database highlight an absence of reliable port-specific data on fish landings and fishing vessel activity. While facts on merchant vessels are more readily available, similar data on port calls for fishing vessels are difficult to obtain, and this lack of information continues to undermine global initiatives to identify and prevent IUU fishing.

The PSMA must be ratified by 25 governments in order to go into effect. Once it does, those states will be required to deny entry to vessels suspected of IUU fishing activity. They will also be able to designate specific ports to accommodate incoming foreign fishing vessels. The agreement’s reporting and information-exchange obligations will help improve port-level data collection on fish landings and vessel activity. Effective implementation of the agreement will contribute to greater understanding of where fish are being caught and landed, and by whom.

Additional information, such as port landings by foreign and domestic vessels or species and the value of fish landed, is needed to help managers assess a port’s susceptibility to IUU fishing. That extra detail would allow for focused efforts to enhance port controls where illegal fishing is of greatest concern.

Tony Long directs the ending illegal fishing project for The Pew Charitable Trusts.

The World's Top 100 Ports

Rankings based on volume of commercial fish landed as reported in ‘Fish Landings at the World’s Commercial Fishing Ports'
Port/Province Country Landings/
metric tons
Peru 677,753
Vladivostok Russia 604,645
Nahodka Russia 604,645
Maluku (Ambon) Indonesia 567,953
Chicama Peru 566,100
Chonnam Korea, Republic of (S) 523,931
Callao Peru 510,537
Coronel Chile 506,866
Iquique Chile 488,092
Paita Peru 483,721
Zhejiang Province – Zhoushan City region – Putuo District
China, PR 481,017
Norway 474,571
Pisco Peru 473,991
North Sumatra (Medan) Indonesia 463,201
Shandong Province – Yantai City outskirts – Rongcheng City China, PR 454,762
Zhejiang Province – Ningbo City region – Xiangshan County China, PR 449,863
Tarawa Kiribati 443,750
Zhejiang Province – Wenzhou City outskirts – Wenling City China, PR 433,576
Ålesund Norway 421,237
Walvis Bay Namibia 418,037
Manta Ecuador 410,611
Dahkla Morocco 392,537
Guangdong Province – Yangjiang City region – Yangjiang City China, PR 374,000
Nouadhibou Mauritania 372,013
East Java (Surubaya) Indonesia 362,624
Fujian Province – Xiamen City outskirts – Shishi City China, PR 345,985
Dutch Harbor, AK USA 340,878
Zhejiang Province – Zhoushan City outskirts – Daishan County China, PR 340,018
Perak Malaysia 315,817
Castro Chile 307,609
Guangdong Province – Zhanjiang City region – Zhanjiang City China, PR 305,000
Bandar Abbas Iran (Islamic Rep. of) 304,263
Nevelsk Russia 302,323
Korsakov Russia 302,323
Petropavlovsk Russia 302,323
Magadan Russia 302,323
Fujian Province – Fuzhou City region – Lianjiang County China, PR 298,558
Kaohsiung City China, Rep. of (Taiwan) 292,800
Skagen Denmark 291,917
Chancay Peru 290,548
Rabaul Papua New Guinea 283,591
Arica Chile 279,060
Talcahuano Chile 276,221
Coishco Peru 273,966
Papua (Jayapura) Indonesia 269,259
Kyongnam Korea, Republic of (S) 268,499
Karachi Pakistan 261,788
Guangdong Province – Shanwei City region – Shanwei City
China, PR 260,000
Central Java (Samerang) Indonesia 251,536
San Vicente Chile 250,877
Laayoun Morocco 248,238
Nova Scotia Canada 235,751
Vestmannaeyjar Iceland 234,117
Thyboran Denmark 234,035
North Sulawesi (Mandao) Indonesia 230,523
Choshi (Chiba) Japan 229,680
Zhejiang Province – Zhoushan City outskirts – Shengsi County China, PR 227,585
SE Sulawesi (Kendari) Indonesia 227,356
Empire-Venice, LA USA 226,980
South Sulawesi (Makassar) Indonesia 218,819
Neskaupstaður Iceland 213,445
Aysen Chile 211,450
British Columbia Canada 209,541
Aleutian Islands (Other), AK USA 206,659
Victoria Seychelles 204,593
Newfoundland Canada 198,525
Pago Pago American Samoa 197,574
Fujian Province – Fuzhou City outskirts – Pingtan County China, PR 197,373
Chungnam Korea, Republic of (S) 197,141
Tambode Mora Peru 197,027
West Sumatra (Padang) Indonesia 196,511
Majuro Rep Marshall Islands 193,248
Beitung Islands (Pangkal Pinang) Indonesia 192,474
Cisnes Chile 189,028
West Java (Bandung) Indonesia 185,825
Yaidu Japan 184,380
Vågsøy Norway 183,679
Lagos Nigeria 180,239
Jakarta Indonesia 180,198
Zhejiang Province – Wenzhou City outskirts – Cangnan County China, PR 178,382
Kodiak, AK USA 178,264
Reedville, VA USA 176,449
Honiara Solomon Islands 164,899
Shandong Province – Yantai City region – Penglai City China, PR 164,579
Guangdong Province – Shantou City region – Shantou City China, PR 163,000
Guangdong Province – Maoming City region – Maoming City China, PR 162,000
Riau Islands (Tanjung Pinang) Indonesia 157,506
Intracostal City, LA USA 156,355
Pohnpei FSM 155,000
Lampung (Sumatra) Indonesia 154,484
Fujian Province – Xiamen City outskirts – Dongshan County China, PR 152,184
North Maluki (Sofifi) Indonesia 150,232
Abidjan Ivory Coast 150,000
Ilo Peru 146,652
Peterhead UK 146,507
Central Sulawesi (Palu) Indonesia 145,784
Aceh (Sumatra) Indonesia 143,681
NTB (Mataram) Indonesia 140,170
Hanstholm Denmark 135,930
Zhejiang Province – Wenzhou City region – Dongtou County China, PR 135,038

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