Interactive Video: How We Can End Illegal Fishing

Watch and explore the story

Up to $23.5 billion worth of seafood is stolen from the sea each year. That’s 1 in 5 fish sold. This pillaging of the world’s oceans threatens fish stocks, undercuts law-abiding fishers, and harms the economies of coastal communities.

The Pew Charitable Trusts is working with governments, enforcement authorities, technology experts, and key players from the seafood industry to tackle this challenge. Our global system includes:

  • Policy: We work with governments, fisheries management bodies, enforcement authorities, and the seafood industry to support the adoption and implementation of regulations and international policies that are making it harder for fishers to operate illegally.
  • Enforcement: Enforcement means not only putting tough laws in place, but also ensuring that countries have the appropriate tools to monitor fishing vessels and apprehend the criminals engaged in this illegal activity. 
  • Technology: Pew has partnered with the U.K. company Satellite Applications Catapult to launch Oversea Ocean Monitor. A team of analysts at OceanMind, a British nonprofit organization that manages this platform, is using it to give governments, authorities, and retailers up-to-date information on fishing activity throughout the world.
  • Markets: We are working with seafood buyers to educate them on the actions they can take to keep illegally caught fish out of their supply chains—and off store shelves.

With the right policies, tools, leadership, and a commitment to sharing information, we can end illegal fishing. 

These blog posts spotlight some of the key takeaways.

Part One: Photos: Agents Probe Ship for Signs of Illegal Fishing

Thai officials and foreign experts offer guidance on how to perform tough port inspections that the country has begun carrying out as a party to a United Nations treaty aimed at combating illegal fishing.

Part Two: 6 Ways Pew’s System for Fighting Illegal Fishing Is Working

Since 2009, The Pew Charitable Trusts has been working around the world to end illegal fishing through a strategic combination of policy, market, technology, and enforcement efforts. Here are six ways in which we know our system is paying off.

Part Three: With High-Tech Eyes, Authorities Corner Illegal Fishers

Throughout most of history, illegal fishers have roamed the world’s ocean, plundering with little fear of being caught or punished. Now, though, new technology coupled with stronger national and international policies is giving the good guys the upper hand—a shift that can’t come soon enough.

Part Four: Up to 1 in 5 Fish Sold Is Caught Illegally—and Other Surprising Illegal Fishing Facts

Our ocean is under assault from a battery of threats that are damaging ecosystems, depleting fish stocks, and changing the marine environment. One of those threats gets relatively little attention but is both serious and solvable: large-scale illegal fishing.

Illegal fishing
Illegal fishing

Impacts of Illegal Fishing

Episode 16

Quick View

Up to 1 in 5 fish taken from the sea is caught illegally, costing as much as $23.5 billion globally each year. This illegal fishing harms ocean health and law-abiding fishers whose livelihoods depend on fish—and is often indicative of the presence of other transnational crimes. But with sophisticated technology and international cooperation, as well as greater industry engagement, we can help deter these crimes on our oceans. Host Dan LeDuc talks with Peter Horn, who leads Pew’s work from London with Oversea Ocean Monitor—satellite technology that helps countries detect illegal fishing. We also hear from Sandy Davies of Stop Illegal Fishing, who works with FISH-i Africa, a network of African nations committed to ending illegal fishing. To learn more, visit

Composite image of modern city network communication concept

Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

Sign up for our four-week email course on Broadband Basics

Quick View

How does broadband internet reach our homes, phones, and tablets? What kind of infrastructure connects us all together? What are the major barriers to broadband access for American communities?

Pills illustration
Pills illustration

What Is Antibiotic Resistance—and How Can We Fight It?

Sign up for our four-week email series The Race Against Resistance.

Quick View

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are a major threat to modern medicine. But how does resistance work, and what can we do to slow the spread? Read personal stories, expert accounts, and more for the answers to those questions in our four-week email series: Slowing Superbugs.