The European Union’s Fight Against IUU Goes Digital

Created on Tuesday, 15 December 2015

The Environmental Justice Foundation, PEW Charitable Trusts, World Wide Fund for Nature, and Oceana have come together to create IUUwatch, a “one-stop shop” for all information and news relating to the European Union’s (EU) fight against illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

In an effort to increase the effectiveness of the EU’s 2010 Regulation to end IUU fishing, IUUwatch provides a single point for all EU IUU and fishing labor violation related documentation, facts and figures, opinion pieces, and blog posts. The site also includes an up-to-date map of the countries that the EU has warned or sanctioned for illegal fishing activity.

The European Union plays a critical role in combatting global IUU fishing. Current estimates are that one in every five fish is harvested illegally. This means that, globally, IUU fishing is estimated to cost between USD 10 billion to 23.5 billion annually, representing 11 million to 26 million tons of catch. As the world’s largest market for seafood products, the EU imports 60 percent of its seafood, including 90 percent of its whitefish. This buying power gives the EU both the capability and responsibility to ensure that their consumed seafood is from legally harvested, healthy fish stocks. IUUwatch is intended to offer a space for a variety of stakeholders in the seafood industry to express a broad range of opinions, and harmoniously discuss the most effective ways the EU can implement its Regulation to end IUU fishing. According to IUUwatch, the EU IUU Regulation’s success will be supported by these essential factors:

  • Establishing and increasing the use of electronic systems for catch certificates to create a structure that allows for cross-checking of factual information and prevents fraudulence in the certificate system;
  • Supporting compliance with international fisheries laws through the EU’s IUU yellow/red carding process, and continuing rigorous and routine assessments of the performances of third party countries;
  • Enforcing uniform application of the Regulation across all EU member states to establish consistency and eliminate potential loopholes where illegal catch can enter the market;
  • Mandating appropriate action by member states if their nationals are found to be engaging in IUU fishing;
  • Establishing that vessels desiring to import fish into the EU, including EU vessels, have an ‘IMO number’, an International Maritime Organization (IMO) unique vessel identifier;
  • Closing the loopholes that allow EU vessels to engage in IUU fishing in international waters and third countries;
  • Establishing a global dialogue with other major market states to create stringent regulations aimed at ending IUU fishing globally.


The EU IUU Regulation can be a powerful tool in the fight against IUU fishing if efforts are continued and strengthened through joint collaboration from other nations to combat this global crisis. Addressing IUU fishing involves the coordination of international governments, industry, NGOs, and consumers, and IUUwatch is positioning itself as the platform for this effort in the EU.


Photo Credit: DrRandomFactor