Illegal Fishing and Transparency
Expanding Transparency and Traceability to Stop Illegal Fishing and Seafood Fraud
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The world’s oceans face a dire threat: Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. Across the globe, IUU fishing depletes marine resources, destroys habitats and is explicitly linked to forced labor and human rights abuses. While the federal government has taken some steps to combat these problems in the past, an estimated $2.4 billion worth of seafood derived from IUU fishing was imported into the U.S. in 2019 alone. Oceana is working to ensure that U.S. dollars do not continue supporting these illicit activities at sea, which can impact the economy, environment and human rights. Background: IUU fishing costs the global seafood industry as much as $26 billion to $50 billion annually. In the United States, up to 85% of the fish consumed is imported, with up to 32% of wild-caught seafood imports being products of illegal or unreported fishing. IUU fishing can include fishing without authorization, ignoring catch limits, operating in closed areas, targeting protected wildlife, and fishing with prohibited gear. These illicit activities can destroy essential habitats, severely deplete fish populations, and threaten global food security. These actions not only contribute to overfishing, but also give bad actors an unfair advantage over honest fishermen that play by the rules. Oceana’s campaign aims to stop illegal fishing, increase transparency at sea and require traceability for all seafood ensuring every fish sold in the U.S. is safe, legally caught, responsibly sourced and honestly labeled.
June 30, 2023
Public Database in the Philippines Increases Transparency at Sea
The Philippines’ Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources officially launched the Fisheries National Administrative Register, a free database that features information on Philippines-flagged commercial fishing vessels with previous violations under the country’s amended Fisheries Code. The register also includes information on foreign-flagged vessels involved in poaching in Philippines waters, including the penalties previously imposed. Oceana’s campaigning was key to ensuring this register was published and made publicly available. Public information is a key factor in deterring illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing and promoting transparency at sea.
March 31, 2023
Mexico Joins the Port State Measures Agreement to Address Illegal Fishing
Mexico joined the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA), a binding international agreement to prevent, deter, and eliminate illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The PSMA prevents vessels engaged in IUU fishing from using foreign ports and landing their catches in countries that have signed on to the agreement, which disincentivizes these vessels’ operations and stops their products from reaching national and international markets. Oceana played a crucial role in Mexico’s adoption of the PSMA, campaigning Senators, the Navy, and the Foreign Affairs Ministry to support the measure. According to Mexico’s fisheries agency, illegal fishing accounts for more than 40% of the country’s fish catch. Joining the PSMA will help to curb these illicit activities. Following Mexico’s adoption of this agreement, Oceana continues to campaign for a new national law that will increase transparency and traceability in the country’s fishing sector.
November 30, 2022
New International Rule Requires Countries to Investigate and Deter Companies from Engaging with Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Vessels
The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), an inter-governmental organization that oversees the conservation and management of fishes such as tunas and swordfish in the Atlantic Ocean, adopted a new rule that will prevent companies from providing services, such as insurance, satellite communications, and financial services, to fishing vessels known to be engaged in illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the ICCAT regulatory area. The 52 member countries of ICCAT will be required to take effective and deterrent action against citizens and businesses that engage with and support IUU fishing. Campaigning by Oceana in Europe, Brazil, Canada, and the United States, was key to securing this victory. This achievement builds on Oceana’s ongoing campaign to get companies that do business with the fishing sector to avoid supporting illicit fishing activities.
February 5, 2019
Oceana Investigation Keeps One of the World’s Largest Fish Factory Vessels on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing List
Following an investigation by Oceana, the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization (SPRFMO) decided to keep the fish factory vessel Damanzaihao (now named Vladivostok 2000) on its list of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing vessels, and issued warnings to China, Panama and Cook Islands for providing assistance to the vessel. The SPRFMO’s Compliance and Technical Committee found that these three countries were not in compliance with conservation and management measures to combat IUU fishing and issued them a “priority non-compliance” status, which reflects violations to SPRFMO regulations.
December 31, 2018
Shrimp and Abalone Added to U.S. Seafood Import Monitoring Program
As of December 31, 2018, shrimp and abalone are now included in the U.S. Seafood Import Monitoring Program, which requires traceability for seafood at risk of illegal fishing and seafood fraud.
News & Reports
Around the Web
August 12, 2023
Source: Fox News
August 10, 2023
Source: The Guardian
June 15, 2023
Source: Deeper Blue
May 24, 2023
Source: The Washington Post
April 6, 2023
Source: USA TODAY