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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Sept. 18, 2020

Coast Guard Announces Outlook to Combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing

By Kara Noto, MyCG Staff

Do you know how the seafood you eat is caught? It’s possible the fish you buy came from an illegal fishing haul. It’s estimated that one in five fish in an industry with a sales value of over $400 billion are brought to market through unlawful methods. Fishing communities subject to the standards that promote good governance of resources are disadvantaged when illegally caught fish enter the market.   

The Commandant has announced a plan to combat the multi-billion dollar international black market in fishing, pursuing new efforts and international partnerships to combat economically and environmentally unsustainable fishing practices.

The outlook, announced by the Commandant on Wednesday, outlines the next steps necessary to deter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU). If left unchecked, IUU fishing undermines national security, threatens the American seafood industry’s economic stability, and causes environmental harm. 

“The Coast Guard’s IUU Fishing Strategic Outlook outlines the Service’s efforts to combat the scourge of IUU fishing over the next decade. We are committed to working with our allies and like-minded partners to strengthen the international fisheries enforcement regime and counter this pervasive threat,” said Commandant of the Coast Guard, Adm. Karl L. Schultz. “As a recognized world leader in maritime safety, security and environmental stewardship, the Coast Guard has a responsibility to help build a coalition of partners willing to identify and address IUU fishing bad actors and model responsible global maritime behavior.”

IUU fishing might appear localized, but the impact reaches far beyond any exclusive economic zones. Glance at any label in the grocery store and the international sourcing is an indication that the global supply chain requires coordinated global action. The Coast Guard has and will continue to serve as a leader among partner agencies to establish parameters and precedent in the maritime domain, working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Department of State (DOS), and the Department of Defense (DOD) to form a unified government effort.

IUU fishing often happens in concert with other illicit activities, including the atrocities of human trafficking and forced labor as well as trafficking of other illegal substances.

In addition to the economic impact to the fishing industry, IUU fishing practices complicate efforts to reduce global hunger; over 40 percent of the global population rely on fish as an essential source of protein.