When the United Nations launched the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) five years ago, the world aligned around the need to end illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing by 2020 (SDG 14.4). Seen then as an achievable target, it is now a deadline we’re going to miss.
IUU fishing accounts for nearly 20 percent of the world catch; up to 50 percent in some areas, with poorer coastal states disproportionately affected. In the Pacific Ocean, a report estimated 24 percent of the fish are unreported and illegally traded in international markets. This directly leads to $4.3 billion to $8.3 billion of loss in gross revenues every year to the formal economy, and up to $21 billion per year across the fish value chain. In addition, destructive fishing methods and deceptive practices are being used to reap profits at the expense of local fisheries, coastal states and the marine environment. In some cases, IUU fishers are associated with crimes including drugs, weapons and human rights abuses.