Fisheries provide a vital source of food, employment, recreation, trade and economic well-being for people throughout the world. In a world of growing population and persistent hunger, fish has emerged as an important commodity for the achievement of food security. However, efforts by the international community to ensure the sustainability of fisheries are being seriously compromised by illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities are responsible for the loss of 11–26 million tonnes of fish each year, which is estimated to have an economic value of US$10–23 billion. To curtail this impact, Target 4 of Goal 14 of the Sustainable Development Agenda adopted in 2015 by the UN General Assembly, specifically urges the international community to “effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices” by 2020.

Meeting this ambitious target requires strong awareness-raising efforts to draw the attention of the general public to the negative impacts of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities, an activity in which FAO has been actively engaged.

Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing

To promote long-term conservation and sustainable use of fisheries resources the 1995 FAO Conference adopted the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. The Code is voluntary and sets out principles and international standards of behavior for responsible practices with a view to ensuring the effective conservation, management and development of living aquatic resources, with due respect for the ecosystem and biodiversity.

In 2009 the FAO Conference adopted the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing. The Agreement is binding and stipulates minimum port State measures to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. It entered into force on 5 June 2016.