To Keep International Fisheries Sustainable, Oversight Bodies Need to Ensure Stronger Compliance With Rules

International Fisheries Need Oversight to Ensure Compliance
Striped marlin hunting sardines, Magdalena Bay, Baja California Sur, Mexico.
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The vast ocean waters beyond national boundaries are home to some of the world’s most economically, ecologically and culturally significant fish species, from tunas and sharks to marlins and swordfish. Regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) are responsible for setting—and enforcing—fishing rules for these international waters. These dual responsibilities are fundamental to promoting the long-term sustainability of international fisheries. However, members of all RFMOs routinely break the rules, with offenses that often go unaddressed because of weak processes that fail to hold countries and fishing vessels accountable for their actions.

The Pew Charitable Trusts works to strengthen compliance by helping RFMOs develop and implement measures to increase transparency, accountability, fairness and cooperation and by ensuring that countries have the capacity to comply with those measures. Improvements here are critical to making sure members follow the rules—and are held accountable when they don’t.