General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean - GFCM

International Day for the Fight Against IUU Fishing: 5 June

The International Day for the Fight against IUU Fishing (ID-IUU) was born from the conclusions of the GFCM Working group on IUU fishing in April 2015 that highlighted the importance of raising awareness on the fight against IUU. It was endorsed by the FAO and United Nations General Assembly in December 2017, proclaiming the ID-IUU as an official UN observance.

The GFCM has developed specific recommendations to reinforce the GFCM IUU vessel list as well as the exchange of information on access agreement and joint inspections procedures for dedicated sub-regions to facilitate monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) measures. Effective implementation of the Regional plan of action to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (RPOA-IUU) will include strengthened compliance and the use of innovative technologies for the remote monitoring of fishing vessels.

For more information on best practices in the fight against IUU click here.



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.