Coral Reef Research Foundation | IUU Fisheries
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IUU Fisheries

Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing plays a major role in the overexploitation of global marine resources, and can represent a significant threat to a nation’s sovereignty, economy and food security.

Palau’s sovereign waters extend from the coast out to 200 nautical miles, an area known as the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Palau’s EEZ shares borders with the EEZs of three other nations; the Federated States of Micronesia, the Philippines and Indonesia. In October 2015 the Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS) was announced, with the aim of protecting over 80% of the EEZ from man-made pollution, overexploitation and illegal activity by December 2021.

At the national level, ineffective management, control and surveillance are the enabling factors of IUU fishing. Successful management of marine resources therefore relies on effective monitoring, control and surveillance strategies. Ideally these strategies are informed by scientific assessments of the nature and extent of IUU fishing within a nation’s waters. To date, no comprehensive studies have been conducted to identify and quantify IUU fishing within Palau’s EEZ. Our aim is to develop an interdisciplinary assessment of IUU fishing in Palau’s waters to support sustainable management of the PNMS, taking into consideration ecological, economic, social, political and institutional factors that need to be understood to effectively deal with IUU fisheries. Due to their high value on international markets and their generally prominent role in IUU fishing, efforts should be focused in particular on the catch of large oceanic predators, i.e. sharks, tuna and billfish.

What are some examples of IUU fishing?

Illegal fishing includes fishing activities that contravene the law, e.g. the unauthorized placement of fish aggregating devices (FADs); fishing in no-take or no-entry zones of marine protected areas (MPAs); the taking of species that are out of season, under-/oversized, or protected; the unlawful taking of species whose take is commercially regulated; and any other unlicensed fishing activity by local or foreign fishers in a country’s national waters. Unreported fishing involves activities and catches that are partly or entirely undeclared, or which are declared in a false or misleading way, such as when an exceeded quota of a certain species is not declared, or when it is reported as a different species. Unregulated fishing refers to fishing activities that are not managed.