2003, Rome -- Efforts to combat illegal, unreported
and unregulated (IUU) fishing must be intensified, FAO stated in
a report presented yesterday to representatives of its Member
Nations gathered here for the 32nd session of the
Organization's governing Conference.
Worldwide, IUU fishing appears to be increasing as a
number of fishers seek to avoid the stricter rules being
established in many places in response to shrinking catches and
declining fish stocks, noted FAO in its report to the
"The situation is
particularly grave and forbidding given that some 75 percent of
world fisheries are already being fully exploited,
overexploited, or depleted," the UN specialized agency
The term IUU fishing is commonly used
to describe a wide range of unscrupulous fishing activities.
Some IUU fishers operate in areas where
fishing is not permitted. Some employ banned technologies,
outlawed net types, or flaunt fishing regulations in other ways.
Others under-report how big their catches are - or don't
report them at all. In some cases, in fact, catches of
commercially-valuable fish species may be surpassing permitted
levels by over 300 percent due to IUU fishing, according to
reports made to FAO.
"Flags of convenience" an
number of countries operating open vessel registries also
contributes to the problem, since in some cases this makes it
easier for IUU fishers to operate under so-called
"flags of convenience", FAO also reported.
The term is commonly used to refer to
countries that allow vessels from around the globe to operate
under their flags while not adequately ensuring that they
respect national and international rules governing fishing.
"In a world where states exercised
effective control over fishing vessels flying their flags, the
incidence of IUU fishing would be greatly reduced," FAO
The problem is compounded by the fact
that many countries simply do not have the capacity to closely
monitor for IUU fishing.
a new framework for combating IUU fishing
In June 2001, some 110 nations endorsed an
FAO-brokered International Plan of Action (IPOA) on IUU fishing,
which among other things calls on States to develop and
implement their own plans as soon as possible.
Around forty-one countries world-wide are expected to
have national plans in place by June 2004, FAO said.
But for many countries - particularly in the
developing world - meeting the challenges of implementing the
IPOA-IUU and elaborating national action plans is very
difficult, owing to limited technical, institutional and
FAO added that this
situation has prompted numerous bilateral and multilateral
assistance programmes aimed at helping countries build their
capacity to deal with IUU fishing.
"Through time, these initiatives will assist
in closing weaker 'links' in the IUU fishing chain
that IUU fisheries seek to exploit," the Organization
FAO itself is intensifying efforts to
provide a wide range of support to countries to help them
develop and implement their national action plans, particularly
under the umbrella of the multilateral FishCode initiative,
FAO's Programme of Global Partnerships for Implementation
of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.
Other achievements in this area include: elaboration
of technical guidelines for establishing anti-IUU fishing
programmes at the national level; development of educational
materials; and a series of regional workshops around the world
to assist countries drafting plans on IUU fishing.
FAO is as well helping shape global responses to the
problem through expert and technical consultations, partnering
with other international agencies, and cooperating closely with
regional fisheries bodies.
is also providing technical advice to countries on a one-on-one
Additionally, a major meeting will
be convened by FAO in Rome inJune 2004 to evaluate
implementation of the IPOA-IUU and identify ways to speed up
Information Officer, FAO
(+39) 06 570