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The FAO Committee on Fisheries, at its 24th Session, adopted the International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IPOA-IUU). On 23 June 2001, at its 120th Session, the FAO Council endorsed the IPOA-IUU.

The FAO Fisheries Department has prepared and finalized these guidelines to assist FAO Members, regional fisheries management organizations and other interested parties in the implementation of the IPOA-IUU. These guidelines are based on the work of Mr David Balton, a consultant to the FAO Fishery Policy and Planning Division.

These guidelines have no formal legal status. They are intended to be practical and flexible, and may be revised in the future in light of new information and experience.


All FAO Members and Associate Members
Interested Nations and International Organizations
FAO Fisheries Department
FAO Fisheries Officers in FAO Regional Offices
Interested Non-Governmental Organizations

FAO Fisheries Department.

Implementation of the International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing.

FAO Technical Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries. No. 9. Rome, FAO. 2002. 122p.


These Guidelines have been produced to support implementation of the International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IPOA-IUU). These Guidelines are addressed to decision-makers and policy-makers associated with the management of fisheries, but they should be of interest to fishing industries and other parties.

The international community has experienced a growing incidence of fishing activity that does not respect applicable laws and regulations, including the standards set forth in recent international instruments. Examples of such activity include reflagging of fishing vessels to evade controls, fishing in areas of national jurisdiction without authorization by the coastal State, failure to report (or misreporting) catches, etc. Such irresponsible fishing activity directly undermines efforts to manage marine fisheries properly and impedes progress toward the goal of sustainable fisheries.

The term "illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing" - or IUU fishing - has emerged to describe a wide range of such activity. The FAO Committee on Fisheries decided in 1999 to address this growing problem through the elaboration of an International Plan of Action. Over the course of the next two years, a significant effort unfolded, which culminated in the adoption of the IPOA-IUU in 2001.

The IPOA-IUU is conceived of as a "toolbox" - a set of tools for use in dealing with IUU fishing in its various manifestations. Obviously, not all tools in the toolbox are appropriate for use in all situations. These Guidelines are intended (1) to help familiarize FAO Members and others with the tools; (2) to suggest which tools to use in particular circumstances; and (3) to provide guidance on how to use the tools effectively.

The IPOA-IUU is voluntary. However, like the Code of Conduct, certain parts of the IPOA-IUU are based on relevant rules of international law, as reflected in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and other pertinent instruments. The IPOA-IUU also contains provisions that may be, or have already been, given binding effect by means of other legal instruments, including global, regional and subregional instruments.

In short, these Guidelines review the measures to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing that are contained in the IPOA-IUU and provide advice as to how those measures may be best put into effect. The guidelines also provide advice on the possible organization and content of national plans of action for implementation of the IPOA-IUU, as well as suggestions for reporting to FAO on implementation of the IPOA-IUU.

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