Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing

International Day on the fight against IUU fishing | 5 June

What is IUU fishing?

The term “IUU fishing” refers to fishing and related activities that operate outside the law and undermine sustainable fisheries.

IUU fishing includes many types of illicit activities, for example, fishing without a licence or authorization, not reporting or misreporting catches, fishing in prohibited areas and catching or selling prohibited species, or fishing in areas not covered by a regulatory framework, IUU fishing takes place whenever fishing vessels do not operate in line with the requirements established by national, regional, and international regulatory schemes and management systems. Read more here.

Why is combatting IUU fishing important?

IUU fishing catches millions of tonnes of fish every year.
It is estimated that IUU fishing accounts on average for about 20% (or 1 in 5) of the world’s catch.
IUU fishing creates unfair competition with small-scale fishers that abide by the regulations, threatening the food security and livelihoods of entire coastal communities.
IUU fishing puts the sustainability of fish stocks and the wellbeing of marine ecosystems in peril.
IUU fishing is often linked to indecent working conditions, labour abuse and slavery.
Buying IUU-caught fish products, even unknowingly, means indirectly supporting all the unsustainable practices behind them.
As consumers we can make a difference with what we choose to buy and eat.

FAO’s commitment through the years

1982 - United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (available in all languages here).

1993 - FAO Compliance Agreement

1995 - Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries

1995 - United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement

2014 - Global Record of Fishing Vessels, Refrigerated Transport Vessels and Supply Vessels | is a State-certified repository of vessels involved in fishing operations.

2014 - FAO Voluntary Guidelines on Flag State Performance | provides a comprehensive checklist and guidelines for flag States to implement their internationally agreed responsibilities in relation to flagging and controlling their fishing vessels.

2016 - 2009 FAO Agreement on Port State Measures (entry into force)| It prevents illicitly caught fish from entering the value chain through foreign ports.

2017 - FAO Voluntary Guidelines for Catch Documentation Schemes | It provides better and more harmonized traceability of fish along the value chain.

2018 - FAO Voluntary Guidelines on the Marking of Fishing Gear | are international guidelines for the marking of fishing gear, aimed at mitigating the problem of abandoned, lost or discarded gear, as well as combatting IUU fishing.