US, Canada and UK take a stand against illegal fishing


The United States 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, according to the US Department of State.

On 27 June, the US, Canada and the UK announced that they would launch an alliance dedicated to the fight against IUU fishing to 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 27 June, President Joe Biden released a National Security Memorandum directing US government agencies to work with international partners to combat IUU fishing and associated labour 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 US Department of State, on 29 June 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 US 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 US government to work with its African partners to increase military and police cooperation off the coast of West Africa.

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