Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) 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.



Oceana works with stakeholders and other NGOs to shed light on potential illegal fishing activities in the Mediterranean. We also collaborate with global fisheries institutions to safeguard the health of the ocean, to increase transparency values in international fisheries legislation and to ensure proper enforcement of the rules.

Illegal fishers at the mouth of the Guadalquivir River, Huelva, Spain. © OCEANA / Jesús Renedo

The Mediterranean Sea hosts 32% of Europe’s threatened marine habitats, and 75% of its fish stocks are exploited above biologically safe limits. Over-exploitation and destructive fishing practices continue in this biodiversity hotspot, largely due to the inconsistent governance framework in the region, including a particularly acute lack of transparency.

Mediterranean ministers have committed to establishing a culture of compliance based on transparency, cross-border cooperation and efficient prevention, detection and action to ensure a rules-based management of fisheries. Yet, the lack of transparency and information concerning important elements such as who is authorised to fish, where, when, what and how has undermined the effectiveness of existing compliance measures.

Preventing public disclosure of information is a major impediment to achieving sustainable fisheries management and stringent fisheries enforcement. Both individually and joining forces with other NGOs through the Med Sea Alliance, Oceana is determined to influence key legislative organisms such as the GFCM and its Contracting Parties (CPCs) to shift fisheries management, in particular by improving transparency in fishing practices and effectively implementing policies and conservation measures.