US adopts IUU recommendation

19 Jul 2011
The recommendation is to better track vessels engaged n IUU fishing for tuna, swordfish, sharks and others

The recommendation is to better track vessels engaged n IUU fishing for tuna, swordfish, sharks and others. Credit: NOAA

The US has joined more than 50 countries in a recommendation to regional fishery management organisations to better track vessels engaged in IUU fishing for tuna, swordfish, sharks and other highly migratory species.

Annual global economic losses due to IUU fishing are estimated to be as high as $23 billion.

This action is a first step toward procedures for sharing information about vessels engaged in IUU fishing. Global cooperation to prevent IUU fishing coupled with sound science and effective management are essential to the sustainability of these wide-ranging species that are highly valued in commercial and recreational fisheries.

The recommendation means that the nations that make up the five regional fishery management organisations managing highly migratory species in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans and adjacent seas will share information about IUU vessels. RFMO rules require their member nations to prevent IUU fishing in their regions. Sharing information about IUU vessels across the RFMOs means an IUU vessel previously listed in only one region would have more difficulty avoiding detection by moving to another region.

“Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing undermines the sustainability of fisheries and the ability of fishermen who abide by the rules to make a decent living,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “Sharing information on IUU vessels across oceans will strengthen enforcement and prevent legal and sustainable fishing operations from being disadvantaged in the global marketplace.”

This outcome was a key goal for the NOAA-led US delegation to the third joint meeting of the world’s regional fisheries management organisations that manage tunas and other highly migratory species.

Delegates also recommended to RFMOs a set of decision-making principles designed to ensure all management measures are consistent with scientific advice. “The long-term sustainability of tunas and other highly migratory fish stocks depends on international cooperation and a strong commitment to follow the scientific advice when setting quotas and other measures,” said Eric Schwaab, assistant NOAA administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service, who headed the US delegation.

Although recommendations and actions from the meeting are not binding, these agreements will inform negotiations for binding measures within each of the five regional tuna fishery management organisations.

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