What is IUU Fishing?

As defined in the International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate IUU Fishing (IPOA IUU), illegal unreported and unregulated fishing refers to activities that contravene national laws and regulations, the conservation and management measures of Regional Fishery Management Organisations (RFMOs) and, where relevant, international law.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing plunders the ocean, weakens economies, depletes fish stocks, and undermines conservation and management efforts. It also jeopardises the livelihoods of the world’s most vulnerable communities.

Are We Running Out Of Fish?

A source discussing the current over fishing and fish population crisis with some key figure/stats.

  • Global fish stocks are exploited or depleted to such an extent that without urgent measures we may be the last generation to catch food from the oceans.
  • 85% of fish over-exploited, depleted, or fully exploited.
  • All West African fisheries are now over-exploited, coastal fisheries have declined 50% in the past 30 years, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.
  • Shark numbers, for example, have declined by 80% worldwide, with one-third of shark species now at risk of extinction.

Subsidies Distant Water Fleets and The Galapagos

China’s large fishing vessels spend more time fishing than the next ten biggest countries combined. Part of its distant water fleet has been detected in international waters off the Galápagos, home to the largest concentration of shark biomass in the world.  Distant water fishing is only economic because the Chinese Government provides sizeable fuel subsidies to the owners, or if illegal fishing takes place. These subsidy programmes must be reformed and supported by SDG compliant investors. 

Analysis of Global Fisheries Subsidies

Analysis of fisheries subsidies, explaining why they encourage unsustainable development.

The period from 2019 to 2020 is critical in determining whether the World Trade Organization (WTO), tasked with eliminating capacity-enhancing fisheries subsidies, can deliver to the world an agreement that will discipline subsidies that lead to overfishing.

Should Nations Close High Sea Fishing?

A radical idea to close the high seas to fishing could increase fish catch and revenue and improve climate resilience of coastal nations. But will it be on the menu of the United Nations High Seas Treaty?

About 58% of the world’s ocean is legally defined as high seas. The remaining 42% are national waters, also called Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs).

The Economics of Fishing the High Seas

While the ecological impacts of fishing the waters beyond national jurisdiction (the “high seas”) have been widely studied, the economic rationale is more difficult to ascertain because of scarce data on the costs and revenues of the fleets that fish there. Newly compiled satellite data and machine learning now allow us to track individual fishing vessels on the high seas in near real time.

Thousands of Sharks Found on Boat in Huge Illegal Haul

Chinese trawlers illegally fishing thousands of sharks off Galapagos. Thousands of Sharks Found on Boat in Huge Illegal Haul.

The confiscation of the Chinese ship and arrest of its 20 crew in the Galápagos show just how hard it is to protect marine sanctuaries.

Voice of Science on Marine Biodiversity Negotiations

Over one hundred governments are currently negotiating a new legally binding instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ). The new agreement is to address four broad themes: marine genetic resources (MGRs); area-based management tools (ABMTs), including marine protected areas (MPAs); environmental impact assessments (EIAs); and capacity building and the transfer of marine technology (CB&TT).

Global Hot Spots of Transhipment of Fish Catch at Sea

A major challenge in global fisheries is posed by transhipment of catch at sea from fishing vessels to refrigerated cargo vessels, which can obscure the origin of the catch and mask illicit practices. Transhipment remains poorly quantified at a global scale, as much of it is thought to occur outside of national waters. We used Automatic Identification System (AIS) vessel tracking data to quantify spatial patterns of transhipment for major fisheries and gear types.

High Seas Fishing Isn’t Just Destructive, It’s Unprofitable

Government funds prop up more than half of fishing in the open ocean, a new study reveals.

 Far from home: Distance patterns of global fishing fleets

Postwar growth of industrial fisheries catch to its peak in 1996 was driven by increasing fleet capacity and geographical expansion. An investigation of the latter, using spatially allocated reconstructed catch data to quantify “mean distance to fishing grounds,” found global trends to be dominated by the expansion histories of a small number of distant-water fishing countries.

Fisheries Subsidies Fuel Ocean Depletion and Hurt Coastal Communities

This time it’s not the flagrant disregard of consensual climate science, but a warning that the long-term sustainability of our marine environment could be at risk during upcoming World Trade Organization negotiations on fisheries subsidies. Fisheries subsidies — financial support from public to private sectors — harm fish stocks when they reduce costs or increase revenues. Whether directly or indirectly, subsidies artificially increase profits, incentivize further investment and lead to increased catches. Continued provision of harmful subsidies results in fishing remaining profitable despite diminishing returns and dwindling fish