Securing the future of fisheries | WWF
Securing the future of fisheries

Posted on 24 October 2019

WWF recommendations to combat IUU fishing in developing countries
Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a global problem that undermines efforts to achieve socially, economically and environmentally sustainable fisheries and whose estimated global value is as much as USD 23 billion annually. Between 11 and 26 million tonnes of fish are caught illegally each year, which corresponds to at least 15% of total fish catches worldwide. As a result, resources, revenue, nutrition and livelihoods decline, posing serious challenges both at sea and on land. Developing countries are particularly vulnerable to IUU fishing, and weak governance has been shown to have a clear correlation with high levels of IUU fishing activities.

Given the complexity of IUU fishing, combating it requires a host of measures that respond to various parts of the problem. Flag States, coastal States, port States and market States all have crucial roles to play to address IUU fishing. Together, they can help close the loopholes that allow IUU fishing to continue. 

WWF has compiled the most important governance elements that must urgently be addressed to ensure a robust fisheries management system that is capable of effectively combatting IUU fishing. These elements are based on internationally agreed legal frameworks and best practices standards, and are presented as the minimum steps necessary for establishing  comprehensive responses to IUU fishing activities.

A robust legal framework and appropriate national plans of action are key to combatting IUU fishing effectively, but these systemsare only as good as their implementation. These recommended actions will enable national fisheries authorities to assess how well their systems are poised to respond to the challenges of IUU fishing, and whether national systems are able to deliver on their international obligations as coastal, flag, port or market States.