International: Improving Fisheries Governance

Encouraging various fisheries governance projects and programs achieves effective and responsible marine stewardship and ensures sustainable global fisheries management.

The United States imports over 90% of its seafood from other nations. Many of the countries in the Latin America, Asia Pacific and West African regions are overwhelmed by the increasing demand for their fisheries products, while many lack the necessary management and/or enforcement capacity to sustainably manage their marine resources. Conservation activities or their lack in countries outside the United States can either enhance or undermine our own fisheries management and conservation efforts.

Our international cooperation efforts focus on the following three priority areas:

1) Combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing through monitoring, control and surveillance initiatives

(2) Building capacity of countries to sustainably manage their fisheries resources – improving their fisheries governance; and

(3) Supporting the recovery of protected species and bycatch mitigation.


Improving Fisheries Governance projects


  • Support the implementation of the Interim Fisheries Coordination Mechanism for Sustainable Fisheries by providing support for the improved management of the queen conch and spiny lobster fisheries and strengthening catch and traceability schemes.

Central/South America

  • Increase collaboration with the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission, World Wildlife Fund and OSPESCA to convene technology transfer and training;
  • Conduct capacity building initiatives in Ecuador to support foreign nation’s conservation and sustainability practices to meet CITES requirements, such as genetic testing methods.
  • Capacity building initiatives in Chile to support transferring scientific and regulatory knowledge to the Chilean society as a way to reach marine resource sustainability. Through innovative technology Chile aims to bridge the information gap observed among science, fishermen and final consumers in relation to the biology, natural availability, fishing regulations, market opportunities and traceability of marine resources provided by small-scale fisheries in Chile.

West Africa

  • Improved Governance through Legal and Enforcement Capacity Building. NOAA’s Office of General Counsel and Office of Law Enforcement have provided a number of legal and enforcement trainings and workshops focused on the general foundation and understanding of the legal tools available to monitor and enforce fisheries regulations. These trainings aim to assist African countries in prosecuting fisheries violations and help strengthen and promote interagency, and regional collaboration. Participating countries include Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cape Verde, and Ghana.
  • Improved Fisheries Management Through Data Collection. NOAA has collaborated to train West African fisheries officials and students on a variety of topics to work towards improving, harmonizing, and strengthening fisheries observer programs. As a result of the shared interest in developing, improving, and expanding fisheries observer programs in the regions of West Africa, NOAA along with our African partners, have drafted an observer program manual.

Asia Pacific

  • Guidelines and Performance Indicators for Trawl Fisheries In Asia, trawling is one of the most important fishing methods, with an estimate of over 80,000 trawl vessels operating in the region. Trawling guidelines are imperative in order to mitigate conflict between commercial and artisanal fisheries, reduce excess fishing effort and reduce the sub-optimal harvest of juvenile fish. NOAA’s role, in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization, is to advise, initiate, and oversee the implementation of these guidelines.
  • EAFM Tools as a Basis for Fisheries Management. Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM) is a fisheries management tool that takes into account the interaction between species and the environment (including humans). EAFM is critical for developing holistic, sustainable fisheries management. Priorities of EAFM projects include:
  1. Adoption and application of EAFM regionally
  2. Implementing specific EAFM tools in Vietnam
  3. Working with the U.S. Navy and PACOM in the Pacific Partnership Program (a multinational humanitarian aid mission)
  4. Working with the Indonesian Blue Swimming Crab program (a joint U.S.-Indonesia, industry-government-society program)


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