NOAA 2000-134
Contact: Kate Naughten


NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service is seeking public comment on a draft international plan of action developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to address illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing – an increasingly serious international problem that is undermining efforts to conserve and manage fish stocks in all fisheries.

International fishery experts believe that illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing also may lead to the collapse of certain fisheries and may seriously impair efforts to rebuild stocks that have already been depleted by overharvesting, loss of habitat or pollution. The public comments received by NOAA Fisheries will be considered in developing a U.S. position on the draft plan.

"NOAA Fisheries is a strong advocate for the Food and Agriculture Organization's efforts to deal with this issue," said Penny Dalton, the director of NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service. "Without agreement by the international fisheries community on the importance of global action to address illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, regional and national efforts to manage fisheries resources can never be fully effective."

A panel of experts, convened in Australia by the Food and Agriculture Organization in May 2000, defined illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing as:

  • Fishing in areas under national jurisdiction without the authorization of the coastal State;
  • Fishing which contravenes or undermines conservation and management;
    Failure to effectively exercise the required jurisdiction or control over vessels and nationals; and
  • Failure to fully and accurately meet fishery and fishing vessel data collection and reporting requirements.

The overall objective of the international plan of action is the voluntary implementation of comprehensive, effective and transparent actions by member countries to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing within two years of adoption by the council.

Some of the proposals being discussed to combat illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing are measures by member countries to:

  • Fully and effectively implement international fishing agreements;
  • Establish or strengthen global and regional international databases and other information systems;
  • Strengthen regional fisheries management organizations and improve their effectiveness;
  • Develop and implement national plans of action to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing;
  • Ensure effective control over fishing vessels flying their flag, in particular by maintaining and further developing the ability to oversee flagging, chartering and fishing operations;
  • Ensure that actions to reduce fishing capacity do not contribute to illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing; and
  • Strengthen national and regional institutional capacity and infrastructure through international agencies and organizations.

The U.S. position on the draft plan is being developed collaboratively by NOAA Fisheries, the Department of State, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the U.S. Customs Service and the Coast Guard. NOAA is coordinating the activities of the interagency team.

The draft plan will receive a technical review by Food and Agriculture Organization member countries at a meeting in Rome in October, 2000.

NOAA Fisheries will hold a public meeting to receive comments on the draft plan at 3:00 p.m. on August 3, 2000, at the National Marine Fisheries Service headquarters, 1315 East-West Hwy., Silver Spring Metro Center Building #3, Room 12836, Silver Spring, Md.

Written comments should be sent to Robin Tuttle, c/o NOAA/NMFS Office of Science & Technology, 1315 East-West Hwy., Silver Spring, Md., 20910, or faxed to (301) 713-4057. The deadline for written comments is 5 p.m. on August 5, 2000. The draft plan is available at:, click on "Report of the Expert Consultation" or by calling (301) 713-2282 ext. 199.