FAO marks the International Day for the Fight Against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing
07 June 2020, Rome – FAO on Friday led celebrations of the 3rd International Day for the Fight Against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing, a scourge accounting for as much as one-seventh of the fish traded in the world.
“Ensuring sustainable fisheries is essential both for present and future generations,” said Vera Agostini, Deputy Director of FAO’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Department. “IUU fishing is among the greatest threats. We can eliminate it -we must remember that.”
FAO held a webinar featuring presentations from senior fisheries officials from the governments of Chile, Guinea and Sierra Leone, as well as a discussion of innovation opportunities in the fisheries sector by FAO Fisheries Officer Alicia Mosteiro.
IUU fishing is a broad term that captures a wide variety of activities that occur in all types and dimensions of fisheries, both on the high seas and in areas within national jurisdiction.
More than 3 billion people in the world rely on fish for critical animal protein, underscoring the importance of sustainable fisheries in supporting global food security. The number of fish stocks subject to biologically unsustainable extraction has more than tripled in the past four decades, and IUU fishing undermines the purpose of management efforts to bolster sustainability as well as marine biodiversity, while also posing a serious threat to the small-sized coastal fisheries that directly support livelihoods in many developing countries and small island developing states.
FAO will publish updated assessments of global fishing trends, including sustainability estimates, on 8 June in the State of the World’s Fisheries and Aquaculture.
The COVID-19 emergency has presented new challenges for fisheries – affecting labor and market access – including the ability to monitor, control and surveil fishing operations.
“Heightened vigilance is required,” said Abdellah Srour, Executive Secretary, FAO General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, emphasizing the important role consumer can play.
“It’s evident that the pandemic restrictions has accelerated the use of electronic tools for surveillance of illegal fishing, which is promising,” said Audun Lem, Deputy Director of FAO’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Department.
FAO and IUU fishing
FAO is very active in fostering initiatives and marshalling the political will required to stamp out IUU fishing, an effort backed by increasing global consensus.
Of note are five international instruments established to contribute to reaching a central objective of Sustainable Development Goal 14:
The Port State Measures Agreement, an international treaty, prevents illegally caught fish from entering international markets by empowering ports to conduct inspections regardless of the flag a vessel flies. The PSMA entered into force in 2016 on 5 June, which was chosen by the United Nations General Assembly as the International Day for the Fight Against IUU Fishing.
Catch Documentation Schemes provide better and more harmonized traceability of fish along the supply chain, responding to consumer demands, sustainable fisheries management and adding to the toolkit against IUU fishing.
FAO’s Voluntary Guidelines on Marking Fishing Gear sharpens the way fishing gear are identified, thereby contrasting the practice of discarding it to hide evidence of IUU fishing as well as mitigating marine environmental pollution.
The Global Record of Fishing Vessels, Refrigerated Transport Vessels and Supply Vessels aims to provide transparent, accessible and certified data making it harder for ships in the fisheries sector to operate outside national, regional and international law.