IUU Index Finds World Off Track on SDG Targets 14.4 and 14.6
UN Photo/M Guthrie
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The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime and Poseidon developed the ‘IUU Fishing Index,’ which uses a suite of 40 indicators to benchmark vulnerability, prevalence and response to IUU fishing among all of the world’s 152 coastal countries.

The Index aims to help policymakers identify where interventions to stop IUU are most needed.

7 February 2019: The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime and Poseidon – Aquatic Resource Management Ltd. launched an index to track illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The Index scores “provide a strong indication” that SDG targets on ending IUU fishing “will not be achieved and that combatting IUU fishing remains a huge global challenge.”

The Global Initiative argues that while SDG 14 (life below water) focuses on ending IUU fishing, there has been insufficient evidence to track levels of IUU fishing and of countries’ vulnerability. SDG target 14.4 aims to end overfishing, illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing and destructive fishing practices. SDG target 14.6 aims to, by 2020, prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing and eliminate subsides that contribute to IUU fishing. The Global Initiative argues that the indicators against which progress on these targets is measured are not a direct measure of IUU fishing levels. This poses challenges for governments, regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs), donors and civil society interested in identifying where interventions to tackle IUU are most needed and in comparing country performance.

To address this evidence gap, the Global Initiative and Poseidon developed the ‘IUU Fishing Index,’ which uses a suite of 40 indicators to benchmark vulnerability, prevalence and response to IUU fishing among all of the world’s 152 coastal countries. Scores range from one for the best performing to five for the worst performing countries. Users can filter the Index by regional, country and ocean basin levels and by indicator. The Index aims to help policymakers identify where interventions to stop IUU are most needed.

The Index will stimulate the action that is urgently needed to combat IUU fishing.

Overall, the world IUU score is 2.29. Belgium ranks the most favorable on the Index, with a score of 1.43 for all indicators, followed by Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Poland. China’s performance is the worst, with a score of 3.93, followed by Taiwan, Cambodia, the Russian Federation and Viet Nam. China, Indonesia, the Russian Federation and Cambodia are each among the ten worst performing countries for two out of the three indicator types.

On IUU prevalence, Asia ranks the worst among all regions, with China, Taiwan and Cambodia all performing poorly. Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, the Philippines, the Russian Federation, Sierra Leone and Thailand also score poorly on IUU prevalence. The top ten performing countries are Canada, Denmark, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Ireland, Estonia, Finland and France.

On IUU response, Europe and North America score the highest. Oceania performs well because of the high priority regional institutions and countries place on fisheries. The top ten countries are Belgium, Poland, Latvia, Bulgaria, Ghana, the US, Australia, Belize, Iceland and Canada. Countries that performed poorly include Bahrain, Benin, Brunei Darussalam, Cameroon, Cambodia, China, Grenada, Libya, the Russian Federation, Singapore, Timor-Leste and Yemen.

On vulnerability, many developing countries in Africa, Asia and Oceania emerge as areas of concern. The Global Initiative explains that these scores are primarily a reflection of their lack of state resources to respond to IUU threats. In addition, several industrial countries with extensive fishing infrastructure also score poorly on vulnerability measures because they require sophisticated regulatory capacity. The top ten performing countries are Monaco, Belgium, Slovenia, Uruguay, Barbados, Dominica, Estonia, Latvia, Finland and Israel.

Poseidon Director, Graeme Macfadyen, said the Index fills a gap in knowledge about country performance on a wide range of indicators. Macfadyen expressed hope that the Index will “stimulate the action that is urgently needed to combat IUU fishing.” Global Initiative Deputy Director, Tuesday Reitano, explained that IUU fishing is often associated with “other forms of transnational organized crime, such as human trafficking, drug trafficking and piracy, not to mention the exploitation of weak and corrupt elements of national management regimes.”

The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs provided financial support for the IUU Fishing Index. [IUU Fishing Index] [Publication: The Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing Index] [Global Initiative Press Release]

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