A group of US federal agencies has announced a five-year IUU fishing strategy. The 21 agencies involved form the US Interagency Working Group on IUU Fishing, chaired by NOAA and working alongside the Department of State, and US Coast Guard.
US agencies are building an expanding toolbox for partners to combat IUU fishing, bringing world-wide recognition to the issue through international channels, and making progress through major domestic initiatives. The Working Group reflects the need for a whole-of-government approach to address this insidious problem.
The strategy is a result of years-long domestic and international collaboration and private sector and industry engagement. It not only makes tangible and targeted progress towards combating IUU fishing globally, it also realises a shared vision for sustainable stewardship of marine resources.
The strategy details US priorities and plans over the next five years to combat IUU fishing and promote maritime security. It includes measures to increase governmental and regional capacity to implement and enforce domestic regulations and international rules and norms to mitigate the effects of IUU fishing.
Over the coming five years, the Working Group will engage with five priority flag states and administrations: Ecuador, Panama, Senegal, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
‘We will focus our efforts in helping foreign partners in their ongoing efforts to combat IUU fishing and related threats,’ a NOAA representative commented.
‘These flag states and administrations were selected in large part due to their demonstrated willingness and interest to take effective action against IUU fishing activities associated with their vessels. They are also located within priority regions the Working Group identified as being at a high risk for IUU fishing activity, having no mechanism to prevent the entry of illegally caught seafood into the regional markets, and lacking the capacity to fully address such illegal activity. U.S. activities will be tailored to the specific needs of each region, flag state, or administration, and U.S. projects and activities already underway. ’
The strategy calls for agencies to utilise existing tools and innovate new technologies to improve global governance, conservation, and management measures. The focus on public-private partnerships is seen as especially promising and recognises the important role industry must play for change to endure. The emphasis on partnerships within the United States, between foreign governments, and with non-government organisations and industry will increase the effectiveness of ongoing efforts.
The efforts of the Working Group align closely with the President’s National Security Memorandum on Combating Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing and Associated Labor Abuses. NOAA, US Department of State, and the US Coast Guard, in co-ordination with other Working Group agencies, will oversee the implementation of the strategy and track progress in priority regions and with the priority flag states and administrations. Together with other governments and authorities, seafood industry, academia, philanthropies, and nongovernmental stakeholders, the strategy aims to combat and deter IUU fishing and related threats.