Workshop on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing Activities


The Committee for Fisheries has hosted a Workshop on IUU fishing which took place on the 19 and 20 April 2004 at the OECD.


Key Oberservations and Findings by the Workshop Chairs

Documentation  : Workshop documents, powerpoint presentations, as well as draft OECD documents and work in progress useful for background material

Related organisations and documents of interest


The High Seas Task Force was formed at the OECD on 6 June 2003. The goal of the Task Force is to set priorities among a series of practical proposals for confronting the challenge of IUU fishing on the high seas. More....



IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing is considered as a major factor undermining sustainability of fisheries. It occurs in both small-scale and industrial fisheries, in marine and inland water fisheries, as well as in zones of national jurisdiction and on the high seas. With respect to the magnitude of IUU fishing, FAO suggests that in some important fisheries, IUU fishing accounts for up to 30 percent of total catches; in one instance FAO has indicated that IUU catches could be as high as three times the permitted catch level. (See David J. Doulman, "A General Overview of some Aspects of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing" (FAO Fisheries Report No. 666, FIPL/R666), FAO, Rome 2001.)

IUU fishing has many facets and motivations, although the most obvious underlying incentives are economic in nature. Factors that may encourage IUU fishing include the existence of excess fleet capacity, the provision of government subsidies, strong market demand for particular fish species and products, weak national fishery administration, poor regional fisheries management and ineffective MCS (monitoring, control and surveillance), including a lack of VMS (vessel monitoring system).

In some areas, FOC (flag of convenience) vessels are becoming common in IUU fishing practices by choosing their flag States through reflagging (sometimes flag hopping), with the apparent aim of circumventing the conservation and management measures of the regional fisheries management organizations. In this context, the international community has identified IUU fishing as a major fisheries management issue due to its far-reaching consequences for the long-term sustainable management of fisheries resources; in this regard, FAO, in June 2001, adopted the International Plan of Action (IPOA) to combat IUU fishing. (See History of IUU .)

Despite international efforts, existing international instruments addressing IUU fishing, have been only partly effective perhaps due to lack of political will, policy priority, lack of capacity to govern and resources to ratify or accede and implement these instruments. Furthermore, IUU fishing activities are considered as a threat not only to depletion of resources but also to markets, trade, competition with products from legal fisheries as well as to maritime safety.

Objective of Workshop

The aim of the Workshop is to address IUU fisheries activities from a multi-disciplinary approach thus bringing to fore a broader range of possible actions. In particular the workshop will address the economic and social drivers of the IUU activities. Key questions that will be addressed by Workshop participants include:

  • What’s the issue? Overview of the problem and issues of IUU.
  • What’s the scale of the problem? By species, by region, by country.
  • What does the typical IUU vessel look like? Costs, manning, profits.
  • Which national instruments against IUU activities are in place (e.g. provisions for nationals, provisions for vessels, outgoing investment rules, flagging and registering requirements)?
  • How can international fisheries law and OECD instruments be helpful?
  • What role for monitoring, surveillance and enforcement and the role of RFMO’s; catch documentation, labels, market access; port state measures?



The Workshop is open to a variety of invited participants from academia,  Member countries and international organisations (e.g. the FAO, WTO, IMO, ILO), Regional Fisheries Management Organisations, NGOs (e.g. Greenpeace, ITF and WWF) as well as private initiatives (e.g. COLTO, MSC). Many of these organisations have addressed the IUU issues in a variety of ways and tapping into their knowledge and experience would be useful and underline the multi-disciplinary nature of the event. If interested in participating, please contact Carl-Christian Schmidt with copy to Fiona Legg

Practical information: Information on transportation and hotels in the area

Final version 16 April 2004: Programme