Report | September 17, 2018

Risk assessment and control of IUU fishing for the marine insurance industry

Guidelines to control or mitigate the risk of insuring vessels and companies associated with illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing

Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing—also known as pirate fishing—is an unresolved and internationally pervasive problem, costing the global economy tens of billions of USD dollars annually.1 Those that participate in IUU fishing break or avoid fisheries management rules and succeed in operating outside the effective reach of government control. IUU fishing can deplete already overfished populations and can destroy vital marine habitats and ecosystems. This activity can also harm law-abiding businesses or operations that suffer reduced fishing opportunities when the fish stocks they target are also targeted by IUU vessels. Ending IUU fishing contributes to the global agenda to promote sustainable fishing and healthy oceans. This is underscored in United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14 to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources” by committing countries to take action to eliminate IUU fishing by 2020.

In this context, in October 2017, leading insurers of marine risks agreed on an insurance industry statement—Assisting ocean stewardship through marine insurance2—confirming that they will not knowingly insure or facilitate the insuring of vessels that have been blacklisted for their involvement in IUU fishing. Oceana, the largest international advocacy organisation dedicated solely to ocean conservation, and UN Environment’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance Initiative, the largest collaborative initiative between the United Nations and the insurance industry, facilitated the development of the Statement to tackle IUU fishing on a global scale, and for insurers to support efforts that can help reduce and ultimately eliminate IUU fishing. This pioneering initiative was launched at the 2017 Our Ocean conference in Malta, an international gathering of world leaders hosted by the European Union.