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Quick Facts:

  • The US imports $2 billion in IUU seafood annually!
  • IUU fishing threatens the livelihoods of legal fishermen around the world and in the US.
  • H.R. 69 and S. 269 will help the US fight IUU fishing.
  • IUU fishing is in the news all of the time! Check out the list of articles below!
For more information about these and other marine issues, please contact the Marine Conservation Institute's policy and science experts.
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Last week the issue of illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing, or pirate fishing as it is sometimes known, hit close to home. Last Monday the US Coast Guard responded to a sighting of three Mexican fishing boats fishing illegally in the US exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off of Texas. The prompt response of the Coast Guard allowed them to rescue one endangered sea turtle and five sharks that were entangled in the illegal fishing nets but were still alive. Unfortunately the Coast Guard was not quick enough to catch the fast moving Mexican boats which got away over the international border only one mile away. Incidents like this one are occurring more and more frequently not only in the Gulf of Mexico but all over the world (see selected list of recent IUU incidents reported in the press listed below).

Congress has an opportunity to help protect the US from IUU fishing and from importing IUU seafood that has been caught all over the world. An estimated 20% of US seafood imports are thought to be illegal, amounting to approximately $2 billion per year in IUU imports. Senator Rockefeller and Delegate Bordallo have introduced similar bills that address IUU fishing and imports (S. 269 and H.R. 69 respectively). These bills make it easier for the Coast Guard to enforce IUU fishing on the high seas, in other country's waters, and on occasions like this where foreign vessels are caught fishing in the US EEZ by streamlining existing laws and penalties. The bills also allow the US to take action against vessels that are identified as having participated in IUU fishing anywhere in the world, an important improvement over the current legal framework.

Marine Conservation Institute shares the following article from The Examiner about the US Coast Guard fighting IUU fishing off of Texas last week as well as a sampling of recent articles about IUU fishing incidents.

Coast Guard Stops Illegal Fishing: Sea Turtle and Five Sharks Released
May 14, 2013, by Sonia Lavina in The Eaminer


USCG Special Purpose craft that responded to illegal fishing. 

Source: Adam Eggers, Law Enforcement Officer


An endangered sea turtle and five sharks were released to the Gulf of Mexico late Sunday after the U.S. Coast Guard spotted Mexicans fishing illegally in U.S. waters, about a mile north of the U.S. and Mexico border reported the Valley Morning Star on May 13.


Fishing boats known as lanchas were spotted by a Coast Guard air crew aboard an HU-25 Falcon jet, during a patrol of the border.

Coast Guard Station South Padre Island dispatched a boatcrew at about 6:30 p.m. aboard a 33-foot Law Enforcement Special Purpose Craft to the last known position of the lanchas, a mile offshore. The station's boatcrew recovered the illegal fishing gear and was able to safely release an endangered sea turtle and five sharks back into the wild.


"Due to the quick response of Station South Padre Island's crew, five sharks and a sea turtle that were found in vessel's long-line gear were released back into the ocean alive," Cmdr. Daniel Deptula, the response department head at Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi, said. "This is a particularly significant case because we were able to save one of our endangered species and highlights the significant threat to the living marine resources of South Texas."


The three lanchas previously spotted were not found when boat crews arrived.


Illegal fishing by Mexican nationals in the Gulf of Mexico region, along the U.S. and Mexico border, continues to be a prevalent and complex issue. Gill netting and over fishing have depleted Mexican fisheries, resulting in increased illegal fishing in U.S. waters, Deptula said.


"And though these particular lanchas were found illegally fishing, these vessels are also known to smuggle illicit narcotics and people into the United States," he added.


So far this year, Sector Corpus Christi and its units have seized 11 lanchas and more than 13 miles of fishing gear. Additionally, 513 fish and 86 sharks have been seized, and one live sea turtle has been returned to the sea.



To view the original article on the Examiner website go here. 



Examples of IUU Fishing in the News:

  • "Illegal Fishing is a Big Problem All Over the World" May 21, 2013 in Triple Pundit
  • "Passenger Ship Spots Illegal Fishing Activity" May 17, 2013 in National Geographic
  • "Coast Guard Stops Illegal Fishing: Sea Turtle and Five Sharks Released" May 14, 2013 in Examiner
  • "Two Vietnamese Vessels Arrested for Illegal Fishing in Natuna" May 14, 2013 in The Jakarta Post
  • "Fish Piracy Nets As Much As 20% of Catch" May 13, 2013 on Radio Australia
  • "Scourge of the Seas: Pirate Fishermen Plunder the World's Fish Supply" May 9, 2013 in Economy Watch
  • "3 Boats Intercepted for Illegal Fishing" May 2, 2013 in ABS CBN News
  • "Authorities Catch Illegal Fishing Vessel 'Thunder'" April 29, 2013 in The Fish Site News
  • "Illegal Fishing Crackdown in Somalia, 78 Iranians Detained" April 25, 2013 in Reuters
  • "Sea Patrol Arrest Four Vietnamese Vessels for Illegal Fishing" April 25, 2013 in The Jakarta Post
  • "Illegal Russian Crab Exports Surge in 2012" April 22, 2013 on Alaska Public Radio Network
  • "Tuna Imports Held at UK Ports Following Warnings of 'Illegal Fishing'" April 20, 2013 in The Grocer
  • "9 Nabbed for Illegal Fishing" April 19, 2013 in the Sun Star Zamboanga
  • "Illegal Chinese Fishing Ship Out of Tubbataha" April 19, 2013 in the Cebu Daily News
  • "CG Interdicts Illegal Fishing in US Waters" April 16, 2013 in Military News
  • "Facts About Illegal Indian Fishing Activity Inside Pakistan EEZ" April 14, 2013 in The News International
  • "Are We Winning the Fight Against IUU Fishing?" April 11, 2013 in World Fishing News
  • "Gov't to Strengthen Penalties for Illegal Fishing by S. Korean Ships" April 11, 2013 in the Global Post
  • "Illegal Fishing in Abu Dhabi on the Rise" April 10, 2013 in Gulf News
  • "Encroachment of TN Fishermen Into Lankan Waters" April 8, 2013 in the Ceylon Daily News
  • "Illegal Foreign Fishing Boats Become a Big Concern" April 7, 2013 in Eleven Myanmar
  • "10 Arrested for Illegal Fishing" April 6, 2013 in the Sun Star Zamboanga
  • "Alaskan Crabbers Get Pinched By Poachers" April 3, 2013 in the Wall Street Journal
  • "Chinese Fishing Fleet in African Waters Reports 9% of Catch to UN" April 3, 2013 in The Guardian
  • "Asians Arrested for Illegal Fishing in Sierra Leone" April 3, 2013 in Sierra Express Media
  • "Coast Guard Cracks Down on Illegal Fishing of Rare Sharks" April 3, 2013 in The China Post
  • "Two Vietnamese Ships Impounded for Illegal Fishing in Natuna" April 1, 2013 in The Jakarta Post
  • "Somaliland: Geeljire Demands Court Action for Yemeni Illegal Fishermen" March 30, 2013 in the Somaliland Sun
  • "NRA to Crackdown on Illegal Fishing" March 28, 2013 in Sierra Express Media
  • "4 Malaysian Ships Netted For Illegal Fishing" March 27, 2013 in The Jakarta Post
  • "Navy Nabs Illegal Fishermen" March 27, 2013 in the Ceylon Daily News
  • "Mozambique Loses Revenues of US$67 Million in 2012 Due to Illegal Fishing" March 27, 2013 in MacauHub
  • "Nigeria Loses $30M Worth of Fish Annually" March 27, 2013 in the Nigerian Tribune
  • "China Urges Vietnam to Stop Illegal Fishing" March 16, 2013 in China News
  • "Ghana, Others To Stem Illegal Fishing" January 23, 2013 in GhanaWeb
  • "U.S. Partners with 10 Nations to Combat Illegal Fishing" January 15, 2013 in IIP Digital