Countering Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing: Capacity Building and Technical Assistance
Special agents, enforcement officers, and enforcement support staff from NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement routinely fight illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and the trade in IUU fish products.
The international community relies on NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement’s expertise in environmental crime, criminal investigations, the fishing industry, vessel monitoring systems, and case management. Much of our international work focuses on combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. We accomplish this through capacity building and technical assistance to international partners and agencies through government-to-government interactions.
Capacity building involves providing organizations and communities the tools, resources, information, and information sharing avenues to allow them to address complex IUU fishing issues. This is usually accomplished through:
- Providing technical assistance to strengthen national policy and legislative frameworks
- Enhancing operational capacities for coordinated monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) operations
- Delivering training workshops to combat IUU fishing through implementation of the Port State Measures Agreement and complementary instruments
With this support, partners have successfully acceded to the Agreement, updated their implementing regulations to be able implement the operational requirements of the Agreement. They have developed or enhanced inspector training curriculum and strengthened existing or adopted new fisheries legislation to combat IUU fishing more effectively.
NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement Around the World
The Partnership for Sustainably Managed Fisheries seeks to prevent IUU fishing while promoting sustainable management of critical marine species and ecosystems by building the capacity of partner country governments to effectively implement the Port State Measures Agreement. The agreement, which entered into force in 2016, is the first binding international agreement specifically targeting IUU fishing. It creates a standardized approach to gathering and sharing information on foreign-flagged fishing or fishing support vessels entering ports and restricting IUU fishery products from being landed at ports and entering the supply chain.
July/August 2021: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have worked hard to pivot our capacity-building efforts to a virtual landscape. Recently, we completed our first virtual Port State Measures Inspector Training Program. This was conducted in partnership with the Royal Kingdom of Thailand’s Department of Fisheries and the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center. We were able to adapt our curriculum to combine a mixture of virtual classroom and practical table top exercises.
January 2020: In partnership with the Ministry of Production of Peru and with support from the U.S. Embassy, we led a Port State Measures Inspector Training in Lima, Peru in January 2020. Through classroom sessions and practical vessel boarding exercises, fisheries inspectors and other relevant authorized law enforcement personnel gained hands-on familiarity with the requirements of the PSMA and resources available to verify fisheries records. They learned methods to detect IUU fishing and crimes associated with IUU fishing, including evidence collection, case documentation, interview techniques, report writing, and information sharing. Following the success of this training, Ecuador’s Vice Ministry requested a similar training in Ecuador along with expressed interest from the U.S. Embassy in Montevideo, Uruguay for a Port State Measures Agreement inspector training.
October 2019: OLE launched its first “Training of the Trainers” workshop in Jakarta, Indonesia for Port State Measures inspectors. The capacity building and curriculum development support we provided led the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries to pilot their own national training curriculum in Indonesia for inspectors. In addition, we provided technical drafting assistance to the Government of Indonesia on MMAF's Ministerial Regulations for implementing the Port State Measures Agreement, which were signed on October 17, 2019.
2017–2020: The United States funded a multi-year project under the UN Food and Agriculture Organization Umbrella Program to support the implementation of the PSMA and other instruments to combat IUU fishing in The Bahamas, Guyana, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and Trinidad and Tobago. Through this project, we provide technical assistance to strengthen national policy and legislative frameworks along with operational capacity for coordinated monitoring, control, and surveillance operations in these countries. Throughout this project, NOAA and FAO:
- Supported the development of a National Strategy and Roadmap to effectively implement the provisions of the PSMA and complimentary international instruments and mechanisms to combat IUU Fishing
- Conducted legal framework reviews from requesting countries
- Conducted MCS assessments that assessed each country’s enforcement capacities (e.g., volume of vessels, product, etc.)
- Completed additional technical assistance missions on topics such as standard operating procedures and regulation development
- Provided virtual MCS technical assistance to partner countries in the wake of COVID-19
In addition, OLE has worked with the Philippines, Ghana, and Indonesia dating back to through capacity-building, technical assistance, and training.