Identification of IUU Fishing Activities

The Moratorium Protection Act requires NOAA Fisheries to produce a biennial Report to Congress that lists nations the United States has identified for IUU fishing and/or bycatch of protected species and shark catches on the high seas for nations that do not have regulatory measures comparable to the United States. The Magnuson‐Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act of 2006, which amended the High Seas Driftnet Fishing Moratorium Protection Act (Moratorium Protection Act), directs the United States to strengthen international fisheries management organizations and to address illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and bycatch of protected living marine resources. The Moratorium Protection Act was further amended in 2011 by the Shark Conservation Act to improve the conservation of sharks domestically and internationally.

Once a nation is identified, we enter a two-year consultation process to encourage that nation to take necessary measures to address the issue for which it was identified. Following these consultations, NOAA Fisheries determines whether to negatively or positively certify the identified nation in the next Report to Congress. A positive certification is issued if the nation has provided evidence of actions that address the activities for which it was identified. A negative certification may result in denial of U.S. port access for fishing vessels of that nation, and potential import restrictions on fish or fish products.

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Findings and Analyses of Foreign IUU Fishing Activities


NOAA Fisheries filed a federal register notice to collect information on foreign vessels engaged in illegal, unreported, or unregulated (IUU) fishing, bycatch, or activities that have targeted or incidentally caught sharks beyond any national jurisdiction during 2016 -2018; and foreign commercial fishing operations exporting fish and fish products and the level of incidental and intentional mortality and serious injury of marine mammals. Submissions should be received on or before December 31, 2018 at

NOAA Fisheries will also host a webinar about the information collection requirements for the Biennial Report to Congress and the List of Foreign Fisheries on June 26, 2018 at 3:00pm Eastern. Register here.



Three nations were identified as having vessels reported to be engaged in IUU activity during 2014–2016. On behalf of the United States, NOAA Fisheries will consult with each nation to encourage action to address these activities.

In April 2018, an Addendum (PDF) to this report was issued:

  • NOAA Fisheries has worked with Mexico to address the actions cited - unauthorized fishing by Mexican vessels, known as lanchas, in the U.S. EEZ of the Gulf of Mexico, and for overfishing of stocks shared with the United States.
  • Based on Mexico’s prosecution of individuals and fishing cooperatives associated with unauthorized fishing in the U.S. EEZ and adoption of additional actions to address these incursions, NOAA Fisheries has issued a positive certification decision to Mexico.
  • As Mexico was also identified for additional cases of IUU fishing in the 2017 Report, failure to sustain its efforts to combat IUU fishing could result in another negative certification in NOAA’s 2019 Report to Congress.


NOAA identified six nations for IUU fishing in 2013 and 2014.  The United States had consultations with the identified nations to encourage them to take action to address IUU fishing by their fishermen. Five of the six nations identified for illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in the 2015 report took action to address the identified issues and now have a positive certification.


Ten nations whose vessels were engaged in IUU fishing were identified in the Report to Congress.  The United States successfully worked with these nations, each of which took the appropriate corrective actions and received positive certifications in the 2015 Report to Congress for their IUU activities.

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Next Steps

In January 2017, three nations were identified as having vessels reported to be engaged in IUU activity during 2014-2016. On behalf of the United States, NOAA Fisheries will consult with each nation to encourage action to address these activities and improve fisheries management and enforcement practices.

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Shark/IUU Fishing Final Rule (2013) - Implements the international provisions of the Shark Conservation Act. This rule specifies procedures for identifying and certifying nations whose vessels target sharks on the high seas. It also amends the definition of IUU fishing to help ensure a comprehensive approach to addressing unsustainable fisheries activities of greatest concern to the United States.

IUU Fishing/Bycatch Final Rule (2011) - Establishes procedures for the identification and certification of nations whose vessels are engaged in IUU fishing or bycatch of Protected Living Marine Resources.  

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Magnuson-Steven Reauthorization Act—Biennial Reports to Congress

2017 Report to Congress

  • Full Report (PDF)

  • Addendum (PDF) 

  • Notice to Mexican Fishing Vessels Subject to Port Denial -English/Spanish 

2015 Report to Congress

  • Full Report (PDF) 

  • Addendum (PDF) 

  • Report Highlights

  • Addendum: Positive Certification Determination for Mexico's 2013 Identification for Bycatch of North Pacific Loggerhead Sea Turtles 

2013 Report to Congress

2011 Report to Congress

2009 Report to Congress

  • Full Report (PDF) 

  • Status of international living marine resources

  • Protected living marine resources list compiled for purposes of the Moratorium Protection Act

  • MSRA Overview Fact Sheet (PDF); also in Spanish (PDF)

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Contact Us

For more information on the international provisions of the MSRA and implementation of the Moratorium Protection Act, please contact Oriana Villar (, Office of International Affairs and Seafood Inspection. 

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More Information

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