The United States takes a stand against illegal fishing

IUU fishing undermines scientific fisheries management, disadvantages legitimate producers and can infringe on the sovereign rights of coastal states.


"Internationally, IUU fishing is a major contributor to the decline of fish stocks and the destruction of marine habitat." Ms. Joyce Murray
By Leigh Hartman Bureau of International Public Affairs, U.S. Department of State Jul 20, 2022
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The U.S. and international partners are increasing efforts to end Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in a way that protects the world's food supply and environment.

On June 27, the U.S., Canada and the U.K. announced that they would launch an alliance dedicated to the fight against IUU fishing tol include better oversight of fishing fleets, building partnerships and holding bad actors to account.

"Internationally, IUU fishing is a major contributor to the decline of fish stocks and the destruction of marine habitat,"  said Joyce Murray, Canada's Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.

Murray stressed the importance of collective action in terms of tools and training to counter the unfortunate consequences of IUU fishing and formulate relevant policies.

Also on June 27, President Joe Biden released a National Security Memorandum directing U.S. government agencies to work with international partners to combat IUU fishing and associated labor abuses, and promote sustainable fishing.

One in five fish is caught illegally, said Monica Medina, assistant secretary of state for oceans and international environmental and scientific affairs at the U.S. Department of State, on June 29 at the United Nations Conference on oceans, which was held in Lisbon. A third of fish stocks are overexploited.

IUU fishing, which includes unreported fishing, the use of prohibited gear or illegal fishing in a country's waters, undermines scientific fisheries management, disadvantages legitimate producers and can infringe on the sovereign rights of coastal states.

To help combat IUU fishing, the U.S. will:

  • work with flag states and partner administrations, including Senegal, Ecuador, Panama, Taiwan and Vietnam, to help them improve monitoring of their vessels
  • develop guidelines with UN agencies on social responsibility in fisheries
  • and promote transatlantic cooperation with partners to combat forced labor in seafood supply chains worldwide

In his memorandum, Biden also calls on the U.S. government to work with its African partners to increase military and police cooperation off the coast of West Africa.

The U.S. is already working with countries in Africa and elsewhere to combat IUU fishing. In March and April, US forces worked with law enforcement agencies from Sierra Leone, Cabo Verde and Interpol to intercept vessels fishing illegally off the coast of West Africa.

In May 2022, the Quad partners (U.S., Australia, India and Japan) launched the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness to help countries in the region use satellite technology to monitoring waters, preventing illegal fishing and responding to humanitarian and natural disasters.

The U.S. will "promote the sustainable use of the oceans in partnership with other nations and the private sector," indicates the chief executive of the U.S. in his national security memorandum. “No nation, government entity or non-governmental organization can tackle IUU fishing and associated labor abuses alone."

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