As the UN tightens the net around illegal fishing, now is the time to act

In the time it takes you to read this sentence, nearly 10,000 lbs of fish will be stolen from the world’s oceans. Illegal fishing, which accounts for up to 26m tons of seafood annually, robs legitimate fishers and governments of revenue, undermines the accuracy of fisheries’ stock assessments and threatens the stability of coastal communities that rely on the legal trade.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing occurs in all the world’s oceans and takes many forms, from operating without a license and falsifying documents to using banned gear, exceeding quotas and fishing in marine protected areas. These activities are especially prevalent in areas such as West Africa, Southeast Asia, South America and Antarctica, where local authorities lack the resources to sufficiently patrol marine territories. Illegal activities account for up to one in five wild-caught fish taken from oceans – worth up to $23.5bn in stolen seafood each year.

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