Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing
Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing is a global problem that threatens ocean ecosystems and sustainable fisheries.
Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing products often come from fisheries that lack the strong and effective conservation and management measures that U.S. fishermen are subject to. IUU fishing most often violates conservation and management measures, such as quotas or bycatch limits, established under international agreements. By negatively impacting fisheries, marine ecosystems, food security, and coastal communities around the world, IUU fishing undermines domestic and international conservation and management. Furthermore, IUU fishing risks the sustainability of the multi-billion-dollar U.S. fishing industry.
White House Initiative to Combat IUU Fishing and Seafood Fraud
In 2014, the White House released the presidential memorandum “Establishing a Comprehensive Framework to Combat Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing and Seafood Fraud.” Among other actions, the memorandum established a Federal Government Task Force that is co-chaired by the Departments of State and Commerce and made up of 14 other federal agencies.
NOAA's Role in Combating IUU Fishing
Because the United States imports more than an estimated 90 percent of the seafood we eat, NOAA Fisheries is working to ensure that the high demand for imported seafood does not create incentives for illegal fishing activity. Partnering with other U.S. government agencies, foreign governments and entities, international organizations, nongovernmental 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 aimed at reducing IUU fishing around the world. We have put measures in place to restrict port entry and access to port services for vessels that are on the IUU lists of international fisheries organizations that the United States belongs to.
In addition, U.S. legislation allows us to act on our own. The Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Act, which amends the High Seas Driftnet Fishing Moratorium Protection Act, requires NOAA to identify countries whose fishing vessels engage in IUU fishing activities. Once NOAA identifies a nation, we consult with them to encourage appropriate corrective action. If the nation does not take appropriate action, it receives a negative certification, and we may prohibit imports of fisheries products from that nation. The Lacey Act also authorizes the United States to impose sanctions against individuals and companies that traffic illegally taken fish and wildlife.
For more information or questions on IUU fishing, please contact David Pearl (firstname.lastname@example.org), NOAA Fisheries Office of International Affairs and Seafood Inspection.