Global Fisheries Need Better Governance to Sustain Key Stocks

Stronger rules and enforcement would help ensure a healthy ocean

Global Fisheries Need Better Governance to Sustain Key Stocks

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. 

 
Harvest Strategies
Harvest Strategies
Issue Brief

Harvest Strategies: 21st Century Fisheries Management

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Issue Brief

Traditional fisheries management is a two-step process: First, scientists conduct stock assessments, and then fishery managers negotiate measures, such as quotas or time-area closures, to make sure that the resource—the targeted fish—is being used optimally and sustainably. While this seems simple enough, the current approach is anything but.

Fact Sheet

How to End Illegal Fishing: The Role of the Flag State

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Fact Sheet

Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing is one of the greatest threats today to marine ecosystems and ocean health. IUU fishing accounts for up to 26 million metric tons of fish annually and damages the livelihoods of legal fishers, including by robbing subsistence fishers and their communities of the fish they need to survive.

IF Brief
IF Brief
Issue Brief

How to Improve International Fisheries

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Issue Brief

Overfishing is one of the greatest threats facing the ocean, with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reporting in 2020 that one-third of all fish stocks are overfished and that another nearly 60 percent cannot sustain any increases in fishing.

Fishing Boat
Fishing Boat
Issue Brief

The Port State Measures Agreement

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Issue Brief

The Port State Measures Agreement

When the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA) entered into force in 2016, the United Nations hailed it as the beginning of a new era in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Over 25 governments had ratified or otherwise signed on to the treaty, surpassing the threshold needed to bring it into force. That number has more than doubled in the years since. But can a single treaty create a mechanism strong enough to combat widespread disregard for fisheries laws and policies? We believe the answer is yes, but the agreement is only as good as the parties that adhere to and enforce it.

Transshipment
Transshipment
Fact Sheet

Best Practices for Transshipment

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Fact Sheet

Transshipment of catch between vessels plays an enormous role in the global commercial fishing industry. Hundreds of refrigerated cargo vessels, or fish “carriers,” take fresh catch from thousands of fishing vessels each year and bring it to shore for processing.