Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing

Links between IUU Fishing and crimes in the fisheries sector

In addition to IUU fishing, the activities of fishers and vessels that engage in IUU fishing can constitute, lead to, or go hand-in-hand with, crimes in the fisheries sector.


The above diagram demonstrates the links between IUU fishing and crimes in the fisheries sector i.e. fisheries-related crimes and crimes associated with the fisheries sector.[1] 

Fisheries-related crimes are closely linked with the fishing operation, even if not considered illegal, unreported or unregulated fishing, as they may not constitute fishing as such. Examples of fisheries-related crimes include document fraud e.g. forged fishing licences, tax crimes, money laundering, inappropriate working conditions, etc. 

Crimes associated with the fisheries sector are crimes that have no direct connection with fishing operations but take place on fishing vessels, or during a fishing operation and using the fishing operation as a cover, opportunity or means to commit such crimes. Examples of these include: drug trafficking, human trafficking, arms trafficking, piracy etc. 

Tackling each of these three different categories requires particular, concerted action by different agencies and different operational and legal frameworks. They may not necessarily be addressed using the same tools. However, in some cases, a vessel may be involved in activities that fall into all three categories which necessitates coordinated enforcement action. 

A number of agencies have been working to develop instruments to tackle crimes that are associated with the fisheries sector. For instance, the International Labour Organization (ILO) led the development of the Work in Fishing Convention (C188), which was adopted in 2007 and entered into force in November 2017. This Convention outlines a minimum standard for the employment of workers on fishing vessels, including minimum age, conditions of service, safety of workers, payments, repatriation, accommodations and other matters. 

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has several initiatives which address fisheries-related crimes as well as crimes associated with the fisheries sector, including the Global Programme for Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime, the Maritime Crime Programme, the Global Programme against Money Laundering and the Container Control Programme. The UNODC also worked with its Members on the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 2000 and entered into force in 2003.

[1] These are not defined terms, but are used here for the purpose of explanation