Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated Fishing

The Pew Oceans Commission estimates that a catch value of 30 billion dollars per year is generated from Illegal fishing.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released an estimate that 30% of fish caught in the world are done so illegally by certain commercial fisheries.

One of the biggest drivers for those who participate in illegal fishing is the short-term economic benefits. Fisheries are categorized as chronic violators, moderate violators, or non-violators. It is estimated that 90% of illegal fishing is done by moderate violators. The temptations for illegal fishing can be found in the list below...
  • If a species of fish increases in value due to its limited supply.
  • If fisheries think they can go undetected in areas with poor inspection.
  • If the cost incurred from being caught does not outweigh the profit earned by illegal fishing.
  • If there is insufficient pressure to comply.
  • If the fish are caught or transferred in limbo areas

Those who fish illegally are more likely to target fish species that are smaller or larger. If fish are caught before sexual maturity they will not have a change to reproduce. Their population will suffer even more as a result. Many large fish species produce few offspring and take years to grow. If too many of these large fish species are caught their population will dwindle and will be difficult to repopulate.

The short-term economic benefits can be seen in fishery profits and cheap consumer fish prices. The long-term effects include stock depletion and loss of employment. Those fisheries that fall into the non-violators category may be forced to engage in illegal fishing in order to compete.

Oceania has been trying to find and film illegal fisheries for some time now. They submit their videos as evidence to local governments in order to facilitate action. This evidence proves that there are inadequate control measures for illegal fishing and puts pressure on the government to improve policy.
What can you do to help?

Being aware of the issue of illegal fishing is the first step. We can share this knowledge with our friends, family; on personal websites, blogs, through letters to the editor, etc. If public opinion changes it will put public pressure on the government to resolve the issue.

Works Cited

"Oceana | Protecting the World's Oceans." IUU Fishing: What Oceana Does. Web. 08 June 2012. <>.

Eftec. Costs of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing in EU Fisheries. The Pew Environmental Group, Nov. 2008. PDF.