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The 'Global Record of Fishing Vessels, Refrigerated Transport Vessels and Supply Vessels' is intended to be the catalyst around which global transparency and traceability in the fisheries sector can be improved. Its primary purpose is to provide a tool to prevent, deter and eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and related activities, making it more difficult and expensive for vessels and companies acting illegally to do business.

Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing poses a significant threat to the sustainability of the global fisheries sector and yet a lack of transparency in the sector means that the perpetrators can go about their criminal enterprise largely undeterred. As a result, illegally caught fisheries products find their way into the legitimate market with relative ease and efforts to impose effective traceability measures are hampered because of the levels of global secrecy that exist.

Fishing vessel registration and the maintenance of a comprehensive record of fishing vessels are fundamental pillars for responsible fisheries management and effective control at the national level and essential for collaborative effort at the regional and global levels. Their importance is recognised in most major international fisheries instruments of recent years but despite this, comprehensive data on the world’s fishing fleets is not readily available. Such basic information is often withheld under government sanction on the premise that the fisheries sector is different. This premise deserves critical scrutiny but even if it were true, the preservation of global fishstocks and the eradication of IUU fishing are far more important considerations.

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