Ending Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing (IUU) | WWF

Ending Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing (IUU)

Every day, thousands of tons of fish are stolen from our oceans and brought to market disguised as legal catch.
© Brian Skerry / National Geographic Image Collection

Fish represents an important part of the diet of many EU citizens. The EU is the largest importer of seafood products in the world, consuming one fourth of the world’s seafood, almost 70% of which is imported. Thousands of kilos of fish enter the European market every day. But do we know where and how the fish on our plate was caught?

Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing has become a global problem that depletes fish stocks, damages marine ecosystems, puts legitimate fishers at an unfair disadvantage, and jeopardises the livelihoods of some of the world’s most vulnerable communities.

The latest official studies show that IUU fishing globally is estimated to cost between €8 billion and €19 billion annually, representing 11 million to 26 million tonnes of catch. Up to 30% of the global caught seafood that arrives on our plates comes from illegal, unreported and unregulated sources.

Therefore, it is evident that combatting IUU fishing and establishing effective seafood traceability should be a high EU priority. As a starting point, the EU IUU Regulation was adopted in September 2008, and came into force on 1 January 2010. However, to date seafood sourced from criminal activities still enters the European market, due to lack of implementation of the regulation, and policy gaps in the legislation.

What do we do to stop illegal fishing?


  • Sarah Fagnani

    EU Policy Officer (Maternity cover)

    WWF European Policy Office,

    +32 2 743 88 00

	© WWF
Yellow Fin Tuna carried by a fisherman in the Philippines


  • Illegal fishing: conducted by vessels or countries that are part of a fisheries organisation but violate the rules, or operate in waters without permission
  • Unreported catches: caught by vessels without reporting to relevant authorities
  • Unregulated fishing: conducted by vessels under the flag of a country they are not part of, or not part of a fishery organisation


  • Every day, thousands of tons of fish are stolen from our oceans and brought to market disguised as legal catch. So, what can we do about it?

    WWF’s Transparent Seas Project is working globally to make fishing more transparent and to ensure that the seafood reaching markets is fully traceable to legal sources. 

    Read more


  • Global Oceans Commission Report From Decline to Recovery - A Rescue Package for the Global Ocean

    "The Ocean is under threat, and humanity’s approach to it is uncontrolled. Benign neglect by the majority, and active abuse by the minority, have fuelled a cycle of decline.” (Global Oceans Commission report, June 2014)

    Download the report (June 2014)