Port Activity Study Reveals Potential for Illegal Fish to Enter Markets

Data shows where implementation of the Port State Measures Agreement is most needed

Editor's note: This interactive was updated on August 2, 2023, to reflect the latest available data.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) catch continues to enter world markets, accounting for up to $23.5 billion worth of seafood each year. To combat this illicit activity, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA) came into force in 2016 after it surpassed 25 ratifications.

The treaty requires parties to place tighter controls on foreign-flagged vessels seeking to enter and use their ports to land or transship fish. In 2019, the Journal of Ocean and Coastal Economics published a study, commissioned by The Pew Charitable Trusts, of the States with the most risk of illegally caught fish passing through their ports—and therefore where implementation of the PSMA would be most effective. By using data transmitted from fishing and fish carrier vessels, researchers identified the top 100 ports globally* by different activity criteria and ranked 140 port States by a series of risk factors.

In 2023, researchers updated the analysis using 2020 data to begin tracking port trends over time. The new study, which was published in the journal Marine Policy, demonstrates that although the risk of illegal catch entering ports has declined slightly, more work—and therefore, better implementation of the PSMA—is needed.

This interactive uses this data to show the location and number of port visits by fishing fleets and the risk factors at play, helping users learn where there is a greater potential for illegally caught fish to pass through port and on to buyers and consumers.

For ease of use, this interactive refers to jurisdictions of significant size as flag and port States.

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By default, the interactive displays data from 2020. Use the toggle to view the 2017 data.


Port States

Port States that received foreign-flagged vessels within their ports
Share of the top 25 riskiest port States that had ratified the PSMA at the time of this study
Number of port States that hosted the top 100 busiest ports in terms of foreign vessel traffic


Ports identified through the study
Share of ports that received foreign-flagged vessels
Number of times vessels visited foreign ports

Flag States

Total visits into port by vessels of any flag
Percentage of flag States whose vessels visited foreign ports
Number of flag States whose vessels conducted 85% of foreign-vessel visits into port
Top 100 Ports by Number of Foreign Vessel Visits, 2020 Blue ports are in countries party to the Port States Measures Agreement; gray ports are not. Size is in proportion to number of visits. Double tap to zoom in. Tap again to zoom out.

Port States

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Top 100

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Top 3 by Port State

Flag States

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