Call For Help to Cease IUU Fishing

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In order to take steps to make our world a better one, the United Nations sets itself goals, and one of these to put an end to hunger and achieve food security.[1] However, over the past two decades there has been a considerable increase in IUU (Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated) fishing. It is estimated that every single year there are 11 to 26 million tonnes of fish are harvested illicitly.[2] In fact, “(…) it is estimated that IUU fishing accounts for about 30% of all fishing activity worldwide.” according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada.[3]


Internationally, each merchant vessel is obligated to register to a state of its’ choosing. The ship must then hoist the flag of that state and follow the rules and regulations it has set in place.[4] However, “Flag-hopping” is believed to be one of the most vastly abused techniques used to mask IUU fishing; It consists of raising another country’s flag upon one’s vessel in order to mask itself behind to avoid international laws. The easiest way for this illegal scheme to work is to swap flags of different countries often to avoid being retraced.[5] This illegal technique is often used by large ships at the detriment of local fishermen left without work.[6]


In response to this raising concern the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) held a conference in 2009 that adopted the Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (the Agreement).[7] This Agreement was put in effect as of June of 2017 and it has the objective “to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing through the implementation of effective port State measures, and thereby to ensure the long-term conservation and sustainable use of living marine resources and marine ecosystems.”[8]


Port State Measures (PSM) can be used to better the standards of international fisheries quite a bit.[9] “Port State measures are requirements established by states with which foreign vessels must comply as a condition of entry and use of the ports within that State.”[10] These measures insist that foreign merchant ships are subject to certain conditions found annexed in the agreement such as notifying before using a port, using a designated port, following restrictions related to equipment and providing documentation for inspections that will be done on the ship and the harvest, amongst other things.[11]


As of today, there are about 50 countries involved with the agreement. In order for it to be more effective in eradicating this global issue there is a need for participation of many more countries.[12] Canada is one of these 50 countries having signed the agreement in November 2010.[13]

This blog post was written by a CCLA-PBSC RightsWatch student. Views

expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCLA or PBSC