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May 5, 2021

Marine insurance companies can be key actors in the fight against IUU fishing


On 17 December 2020, Oceana hosted an online workshop with the purpose of discussing progress made by the marine insurance industry in adopting best practices to fight illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing — a devastating practice that is damaging the health of the ocean worldwide.

Insurance companies can play a key role in helping to eliminate IUU fishing by screening for and denying services to high-risk vessels. They can introduce policy wording that excludes coverage to unregulated vessels and to those that switch off vessel tracking systems. Companies aiming to have a more transformational impact can introduce transparency requirements on the vessels they insure, such as requiring them to be registered with an International Maritime Organisation (IMO) number—a unique number that stays assigned to a vessel throughout its lifetime regardless of changes in name, flag, ownership or other characteristics.

The workshop convened signatories and supporting institutions to an insurance industry statement against IUU fishing that was launched in 2017 at the Our Ocean Conference in Malta. The best practices discussed included the recommended strategies put forth within a guidance document published in 2019 by Oceana and UN Environment’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI) initiative.

Oceana welcomes the concrete steps taken by several insurance companies to avoid insuring IUU fishing vessels and explore paths towards increasing transparency. However, some signatories to the 2017 statement have not yet taken action aligned with their commitment. While public declarations of intention can be helpful in raising awareness, it is crucial that meaningful changes to processes are also enacted for these efforts to have their intended impact.   

Oceana is committed to ensuring that these innovative strategies are not just discussed but widely adopted. In the months to come we will continue working with companies who are willing to adopt and promote them more widely within the insurance sector. Key advancements will be shared publicly as this work progresses.

If you work for an insurance company, club or organisation that is interested in helping to end IUU fishing, please review the summary report from our December 2020 workshop posted below and contact us at europe@oceana.org to find out how you can make a difference.

Read the workshop’s summary report here.