General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean - GFCM

International Day for the Fight against IUU Fishing - 5 June 2020


States face new challenges to monitor, control and surveil fishing operations, and to ensure the implementation of sustainable fisheries management. Join us on Friday 5 June to discuss innovations and digitalisation to #FightIUUFishing

On the occasion of the third celebration of the International Day for the Fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (ID-IUU) the GFCM recalls the importance of maintaining the highest attention on the fight against IUU fishing during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The ID-IUU, an ad hoc instrument, allows us to reflect on the issue of IUU fishing during this delicate period. In particular, the monitoring, control and surveillance of fisheries activities is now facing a high risk of growing cases of alleged IUU fishing caused by a significant decrease of effective controls like for example inspections at sea or at port.


5 June: the International Day for the Fight against IUU Fishing

The International Day for the Fight against IUU Fishing (ID-IUU) is an initiative launched in 2015 by the GFCM in Marrakech, Morocco. Thanks to the efforts of the GFCM, it was endorsed by the FAO and by the United Nations General Assembly which, in December 2017, proclaimed the ID-IUU as an official UN observance.



The GFCM is strongly committed to continue working on best practices and sharing the results over the region to encourage their adaptation and replication. Last year, in the context of the GFCM High-level conference on MedFish4Ever initiatives: Advances and renewed commitments, the GFCM celebrated the ID-IUU with a particular event of regional scope to award selected best practices in fighting against IUU fishing. Discover the seven awarded best practices that exemplify the progress made in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea in terms of virtuous initiatives and innovations

To celebrate IUU Day this year, the GFCM will participate in a virtual event jointly hosted with the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, focusing on "Activities and regional initiatives to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing."

Learn more about the virtual webinar on 5 June 2020 and register to the event.

During the 2019-2020 intersession, the GFCM has focused on the fight against IUU fishing by developing specific recommendations to reinforce the GFCM IUU vessel list as well as the exchange of information on access agreements and joint inspections procedures for dedicated subregions to facilitate monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) measures.

"In the context of the preparation of the GFCM post-2020 strategy, we will all be invited to reflect on the resilience of the fisheries sector and on the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis" said Roland Kristo, Chairperson of the GFCM. "Reflection will be enhanced towards the effective implementation of the Regional plan of action to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (RPOA-IUU), including strengthened compliance and the use of innovative technologies for the remote monitoring of fishing vessels. The preparation of the GFCM post-2020 strategy will also accelerate the modification of national strategies to align them with current challenges for an effective fight against IUU fishing."


What is IUU fishing?

Illegal fishing refers to any fishing activity which breaks the laws of the fishery where it takes place. The fishery may be under the national jurisdiction of a coastal state, or on the high seas regulated by a regional fisheries management organization (RFMO).
Unreported fishing refers to fishing which goes unreported or is misreported to the relevant national authority or RFMO, contravening regulations in place.
Unregulated fishing refers to fishing carried out by unregistered vessels, or vessels flying flags of nations which are not part of the RFMO that controls the area where they are fishing. It also occurs in areas which are not regulated at all.

Why is IUU fishing a serious problem?

  • It undermines global, regional and national policies for the sustainability of fisheries, aggravating the status of fishery resources.
  • It causes an estimated loss to the global economy, representing up to 26 million tonnes of fish caught annually, valued at USD 10-23 billion.
  • It accounts for severe environmental damage to key marine ecosystems due to the use of destructive fishing gear and practices.
  • It distorts open and fair competition and is linked to various crimes, from the forging of document to money laundering and tax evasion.
  • It has damaging socioeconomic impacts on coastal communities, disrupting livelihoods, local employment and supply chains and hampering decent work.
  • It affects our knowledge of the status of fisheries stocks due to lack of data on real catches, landings and fishing activities.

How can we improve the fight against IUU?

  • By promoting knowledge on the extent of IUU fishing through regular assessments and by raising awareness on the threats it poses to coastal communities.
  • By fostering cooperation among all relevant organizations with a mandate to tackle IUU fishing.
  • By promoting joint initiatives such as training for port control inspectors and officers as well as inspections schemes for iconic fisheries in the region.
  • By helping to implement all relevant policies, from the ratification of international treaties (such as the FAO Agreement on Port State Measures) to compliance with GFCM recommendations.
  • By providing technical assistance to less-developed countries with a view to building their capacity in the fight against IUU fishing.