Illegal Fishing: IUU Fishing
Illegal fishing is behind almost one in every five fish caught.
Illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing is one of the most pressing issues affecting fisheries management. IUU fishing delivers billions of euros in profits for operators while defrauding consumers. Vessels engaged in IUU fishing activities do not comply with safety measures on board, do not use legal fishing gear, do not follow fisheries management regulations and do not comply with regulations on quotas, fishing areas, closed seasons nor prohibited species.
Oceana videographer documenting an illegal driftnetter operating SE of Alborán island. © Oceana / Juan Carlos Calvin
IUU: A Global Issue
IUU fishing takes place everywhere, whether it’s within national jurisdictions or on the high seas. It especially thrives in places where transparency and governance are weak.
One of the principle effects of IUU us that its catches are not recorded in catch registers, which are how fishing stocks are estimated. As a result, the Council Regulation 1005/2008 establishes measures that attempt to reduce IUU fishing in Europe. In addition, the FAO and more than 90 countries have promoted a treaty to fight against IUU fishing. Apart from these, measures are also focused on closing ports to vessels engaged in illegal fishing activities. However, one of the main challenges to reduce illegal fishing activities is the lack of a control and sanctioning system to mitigate the environmental infringements committed by the sector.
What Oceana Does
Oceana works against IUU fishing on three fronts:
- Satellite and on-the-field monitoring: via Global Fishing Watch (GFW, a real-time platform that tracks global fishing activity) and on our at-sea expeditions and port visits, where we have documented and gathered evidence on illegal fishing activities, vessels engaged in illegal fishing, the use of illegal fishing gear and catches of non-authorized species.
- Collecting data on ship owners and vessels engaged in IUU and filing formal complaints of the same before national and international authorities and organizations.
- Lobbying and putting pressure on politicians to put an end to IUU, increase transparency in the sector and promote sustainable fishing practices. This also includes reforming current European regulations for the sustainable management of long-distance fishing fleets.
- Campaigns directed towards service providers, specifically to marine insurance companies.