The world’s fisheries are a natural resource that provides employment for over 300 million people and food for billions. Worldwide, fisheries support a $250 billion global economy. Yet despite their great importance, fisheries’ health and sustainability are increasingly under threat. That’s because illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, or IUU, is enormously profitable, raking in billions of dollars globally.
And that’s huge problem, because IUU fishing is a major environmental problem and an economic challenge.
Such fishing undermines efforts to conserve and manage our fish stocks. Poachers and illegal fishermen take fish that could be caught and sold by local fishermen. They pay no taxes or license fees, so they can sell their fish cheaper, undercutting legal fishermen. They ignore fishing limits, fishing bans and protected areas that are meant to maintain fish populations at sustainable levels, and too often use destructive fishing methods. Indeed, over the years, we have seen how large-scale IUU fishing operations can drive down populations of some of the world’s most lucrative fisheries to dangerously low levels.
One of the ways we can stop illegal fishing is to deny poachers access to markets. Tracking the seafood entering these markets is an effective way to begin. So, in mid-September, the U.S. Agency for International Development Oceans and Fisheries Partnership, or USAID Oceans, and Seafood Watch-- an influential sustainable advisory organization run by the Monterey Bay Aquarium-- launched a new partnership aimed at increasing sustainable fisheries management in the Asia-Pacific region.
The partnership will improve and extend digital documentation and traceability systems in seafood supply chains globally. It will also strengthen Seafood Watch's engagement with industry associations, fisheries, and NGOs in Southeast Asia, and provide solutions and recommendations on traceability and sustainable fisheries for North American businesses regarding responsible seafood sourcing and purchasing.
“Together” said Jennifer Dianto Kemmerly, director of global fisheries and aquaculture for the nonprofit Monterey Bay Aquarium, “this partnership will harness technical experts, major seafood business partners and on-the-ground producers to bring about dramatic and positive changes in Southeast Asia’s seafood supply chain and serve as a model of collaboration for other regions around the world.”