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Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Rush escorts the suspected high seas drift net fishing vessel Da Cheng in the North Pacific Ocean on August 14, 2012. Photo Credit: U.S. Coast Guard 


Liberian fishery observers toured a shrimp vessel as part of the two-week observer training program supported by NOAA Fisheries to combat IUU fishing.  Read more...


Key Partners


IUU fishing is a global problem that threatens ocean ecosystems and sustainable fisheries.  IUU products often come from fisheries lacking the strong and effective conservation and management measures to which U.S. fishermen are subject.  IUU fishing most often violates conservation and management measures, such as quotas or bycatch limits, established under international agreements.  By adversely impacting fisheries, marine ecosystems, food security and coastal communities around the world, IUU fishing undermines domestic and international conservation and management efforts.  Furthermore, IUU fishing risks the sustainability of a multi-billion-dollar U.S. industry.

White House initiative to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud. Click to learn more...

NOAA’s Role in Combating IUU Fishing

Because the United States imports more than 90 percent of its seafood, NOAA Fisheries is working to ensure that high demand for imported seafood does not create incentives for illegal fishing activity.  Working in partnership with other U.S. Government agencies, foreign governments and entities, international organizations, non-government organizations, and the private sector is crucial to effectively combating IUU fishing.  We work with other fishing nations to strengthen enforcement and data collection programs around the world aimed at curtailing IUU fishing.  We have put measures in place to restrict port entry and access to port services to vessels included on the IUU lists Exit of international fisheries organizations with U.S. membership. 

In addition, U.S. legislation allows us to take action on our own.  The Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Act, which amends the High Seas Driftnet Fishing Moratorium Protection Act, requires NOAA to identify countries that have fishing vessels engaged in IUU fishing activities.  Once a nation has been identified, we consult with the nation to encourage appropriate corrective action.  If the identified nation does not take appropriate action and receives a negative certification, imports of fisheries products may be prohibited from that nation. The Lacey Act also provides the United States with the authority to impose significant sanctions against individuals and companies engaged in trafficking illegally taken fish and wildlife. 

 Learn more about actions NOAA is taking to combat IUU fishing.  For more information or questions on IUU fishing, please visit our frequently asked questions page or contact David Pearl ( 


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