Businesses Against Illegal Fishing

Weaving alliances with companies that provide services to the marine sector is key to making them part of the solution in the fight against illegal fishing.


Increasing International Fisheries Transparency

Illegal fishing takes place everywhere, within national waters and on the high seas, flourishing where transparency and governance are weak.


Fighting Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing in

One in five fish taken from the ocean comes from illegal fishing. Having more public information on who can fish what, when, and where would help ensure better fisheries management and protection of the ocean.


Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing

Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a problem that affects the ocean worldwide and costs the global economy tens of billions of euros every year. It destroys marine habitats, adds pressure to fish populations that are already at risk of over-exploitation and undermines efforts to responsibly manage and protect the ocean.

Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing exploits the natural resources of coastal nations, reduces economic opportunities, and threatens food security—particularly in developing countries.

Those that participate in illegal fishing break or avoid the law by operating without a license, fishing where it is forbidden, using illegal gear, catching endangered species, or taking more than what is allowed.

Illegal fishers avoid national and international rules and operate outside the reach of government control. They not only hide their vessels at sea, but also use shell companies and tax havens to mask their identity and hide money flows. They often carry out their activities in an organised, systematic way globally, involving structured criminal networks. For these fishers, it is currently a low-risk activity that delivers big profits.  

In the battle to eliminate IUU fishing over the past 20 years, Oceana has both identified illegal operators and persuaded governments to strengthen regulation. Using state-of-the-art tools like Global Fishing Watch, we closely monitor and expose illegal fishing activities to national and international authorities, as well as promote the need for more transparency in the sector to stop illegal activities at EU and national level. We also work with the private sector to make it more difficult for illegal fishers to obtain the essential services they need to operate.


December, 2023

Spain Sanctions 25 Fishing Vessels for Disabling Public Tracking Devices

The Government of Spain sanctioned 25 Spanish-flagged fishing vessels for repeatedly disabling their automatic identification system (AIS). The sanctions, with fines of up to €60,000 (US$65,000), are a direct result of Oceana’s analysis and close collaboration with the Spanish administration. Oceana found the sanctioned vessels appeared to be fishing near Argentinian waters between 2018 and 2021 with their AIS trackers turned off. These vessels spent nearly twice as much time with AIS devices off as they did visibly fishing.

Vessels are known to turn off their AIS trackers to avoid being seen, possibly to engage in fishing that is not authorized. Broadcasting AIS vessel location data is required by Spain and the European Union to guarantee safety at sea.

November, 2023

Mediterranean Countries Can Now Penalize States who Fail to Tackle Overfishing and Illegal Fishing

The General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) created a sanction system that will allow it to penalize states that fail to tackle overfishing or illegal fishing by their fleets. This action, which is the result of campaigning by Oceana and its allies, is essential to restoring fish populations in the Mediterranean Sea, one of the most overfished seas on Earth. Starting in 2025, the GFCM will be able to sanction countries that fail to take action when their trawl fleets fish in no-trawl areas, or if they fail to follow rules on fishing gear or catch restrictions. These penalties can include restricting fishing authorizations or reducing the allowed fishing days at sea. Prior to the GFCM’s decision, Oceana, ClientEarth, and the Environmental Justice Foundation prepared a legal analysis, which found that the GFCM could establish such a system. Oceana continues to urge Mediterranean countries to follow through on their commitments and restore fish populations and ecosystems.

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