A third of the world’s fish stocks are overfished and another nearly 60 percent cannot sustain any increases in fishing. Despite the critical role that key species play in marine ecosystems and the billions of dollars they generate for the global economy, there are inadequate rules in place—particularly governing high seas fisheries—to ensure that catch levels are sustainable. Where rules do exist, gaps in oversight allow unscrupulous operators to illegally traffic in valuable catch, and penalties are minimal if they are caught.
It is time for a change. An improved system of rules and consequences would ensure that fisheries are sustainably managed and help governments better address illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. All participants in the fisheries economy—from individual vessel owners to government officials and fisheries managers—must work together to improve oversight, from the time a vessel leaves port to the final point of sale.