U.S. Coast Guard leadership has released a new strategy for combatting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, a global problem both on the high seas and in areas of national jurisdiction. Admiral Karl L. Schultz, commandant of the Coast Guard, said that 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.
The Coast Guard is committed to leading an international effort with America’s allies to combat illegal exploitation of fish stocks in the oceans and to protect national interests.
The Coast Guard’s newly released IUU strategic outlook notes that not all maritime nations have the capability to surveil their sovereign waters or the moral conscience to police their fleets, thus creating opportunities for exploitation through illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. This exploitation the Coast Guard report said, “erodes both regional and national security, undermines maritime rules-based order, jeopardizes food access and availability and destroys legitimate economies.”
The global impacts of IUU fishing include the loss of revenue in the billions of dollars, undermining of stock management, and the loss of valuable protein sources to people in nearly half of the world’s population on seafood for 20 percent of their animal protein.
The Coast Guard also cited data noting that 80 percent of fish eaten in the U.S. are imported and without effective traceability and monitoring, illegally caught fish around the world enter U.S. markets.
Today’s fish stocks are under stress not only from growing consumption demand and changing ecosystems, but from deliberate efforts to exploit gaps in existing governance structures, the NOAA report said. Illegal transshipments, heavy-subsidized distant water fishing, and nations who choose to systematically engage in IUU fishing amplify these stressors and catalyze additional criminal activity which further undermines maritime rules-based order.The full Coast Guard report is online at https://www.uscg.mil/IUUFishing/