fish report header

Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing

For decades there has been a worldwide movement to reduce overfishing and create a sustainable future for all fisheries, but despite the public's increased awareness of the negative consequences of depleting our oceans, there are still incidences of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing occurring all over the world. The actions of a disobedient few can have dramatic consequences on the livelihoods of many and can affect incomes, jobs, and the overall marine environment. A lack of compliance with the rules and regulations makes it difficult to achieve the goals of rebuilding and creating sustainable fisheries.


In order to get the message across that IUU is not something that will be tolerated, harsher punishments and tighter regulations are being implemented for those who are not cooperating. Recently, the European Commission cracked down on members of the European Union (EU) that have repeatedly overfished. Typically, when overfishing occurs within EU waters, quotas are reduced by a percentage of the amount that the nation overfished, but after three years of disregarding the measures countries like France and Portugal will have their catch quotas reduced by 50%. Spain's horse mackerel industry suffered the largest penalties, which reduced the total allowable catch from 22,409 metric tons to 9,596 metric tons. The High Court in Edinburgh also came down hard on ten men who were partaking in illegal fishing between 2002 and 2005. The men frequently reported fewer fish than their actual catch so that it appeared as if they were not exceeding catch limits. Their actions resulted in overfishing and their penalties totaled 1,194,447 (1.87 million USD) in fines and confiscations. In other areas, such as Thailand, illegal fishing activities in restricted waters are compounded by related illegal activities, including human trafficking. Traffickers in Thailand will promise jobs to people from Cambodia or Myanmar who have crossed the border to look for work, but many end up as slaves on fishing vessels, working in harsh conditions for sometimes years without pay.


The majority of fishermen agree that overfishing and taking fish illegally are not worth the risk, but there are others who are not so concerned. Since 1980, it is estimated that the percentage of fish caught illegally has decreased slightly on a global scale, however illegal fishing is still a major concern in many areas (Figure 1). In the Northeast Pacific near Alaska and Southwest Pacific near Australia, illegal fishing is estimated to only be around 3% and 4%, respectively, and great efforts have been made to continue to decrease the already low levels of illegal activity. Some of the areas where illegal fishing is the most prevalent occur along the Eastern Central Atlantic around central Africa and Western Central Pacific around the Philippines. It is estimated that illegal fishing remains around 37% and 34%, respectively, in these regions. There have been recent discussions on how to control illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, but thus far there has been little action taken and rebuilding the fishery remains out of reach.

Follow Us!  Like us on Facebook  View our photos on flickr  View our videos on YouTube

email list
Recent Blog Post
Replenishing a river

As with many rivers in California, the Stanislaus Restoration River has a deficit of good quality gravel for salmon and steelhead spawning. During the Gold Rush era large shovel dredges processed vast quantities of gravel and deposited the tailings in piles, usually adjacent to the stream. One such tailing in the Stanislaus River (Honolulu Bar) formed a large in-stream island and a side channel that was not accessible to fish under most flows. We are working with the Oakdale Irrigation District (OID) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Anadromous Fish Restoration Program (AFRP) to decrease the island elevation, so that it will become inundated under typical spring flows and provide more juvenile salmonid rearing habitat. Gravel removed from the island is being returned to the river channel to replenish spawning beds... Read more > 

Recent Job Announcements 

illegal fishing trend
Figure 1. Trends in illegal fishing around the world indicating a couple regions where illegal fishing is high (red) and where illegal fishing is low (green). The global average (blue) for illegal fishing has only slightly decreased since 1980 (Agnew et al. 2009).
IN THE NEWS: Recent stories you might have missed...
State to stop coho salmon planting in Lake Oroville
Oroville Mercury-Register

Spring ChinookThe hundreds of thousands of coho salmon growing in rearing ponds west of Oroville will be the last batch of the species planted in Lake Oroville.

The news was given to members of the Oroville Recreation Advisory Committee at a meeting last Friday. A woman attending the meeting called this newspaper alarmed at the news...Read more> 

Study: California lacks protocols to manage hatchery salmon 

The Sacramento Bee 

California needs to dramatically reform its fish hatcheries in order to maintain healthy salmon and steelhead populations, according to a major new study.

The $2 million study, released Tuesday by state and federal wildlife agencies, concludes nearly two years of work by a panel of fishery experts...Read more> 

Read more here:
DFG surveys salmon anglers on Central Valley rivers
DFG News

The Department of Fish and Game's (DFG) Central Valley angler surveys have begun on the American, Feather, Mokelumne and Sacramento rivers. Over the next five months, survey crews will repeatedly visit 20 different sections of river to cover the full extent of the inland salmon fishery. Survey crews count the number of boats and anglers, weigh and measure each fish caught and collect the heads of those salmon imbedded with a coded wire tag...Read more >  

Conservationists seek protection for Columbia River salmon    

This week, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of Hood River Waterfront and the Northwest Environmental Defense Center filed a second formal notice of intent to sue in order to protect endangered fish species in Columbia River from a major development, which was approved on Monday by the Hood River City Council...Read more > 
The case for a leaner, meaner global fishing industry


Despite an eye-watering price tag of approximately $200 billion, the benefits of a concerted effort to restore global fisheries outweigh the costs, according to a new report published in PLoS ONE. The authors claim that such a scheme would pay for itself in 12 years, and see a net gain (if you'll pardon the expression) of up to $1400 billion after 50 years, boosting fishing from a loss-making (when subsidies are considered) to a profit-making industry... Read more >