International Day for the Fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing

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2023 Date5 June 2023
2024 Date5 June 2024

International Day for the Fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing

The International Day for the Fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing is an annual observance aimed at raising global awareness about the dangers IUU fishing poses to the sustainability of fish stocks, marine ecosystems, and the livelihoods of those dependent on the fishing industry. The observance promotes a collective effort to bolster international cooperation in tackling these illicit practices that threaten not just the marine ecosystem, but also social welfare and economic stability.

While the event was initiated by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization in 2015, IUU fishing has deep implications for South Africa's rich marine biodiversity and thriving fishing industry. The country's expansive coastline along both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans renders abundant opportunities for illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing. This jeopardizes the sustainable management of marine resources, undermines legal fishing practices, and affects the livelihoods of local fishing communities in South Africa. The observance of this day resonates strongly with South Africans, highlighting the need to promote sustainable practices and counteract IUU fishing.

South Africans observe the International Day for the Fight against IUU Fishing by engaging in various activities that raise awareness of the issue, promote information-sharing, and encourage regional cooperation. Activities typically involve educational and outreach events that highlight the dangers of IUU fishing and the importance of sustainable fishing practices. The International Day for the Fight against IUU Fishing is observed annually on June 5th, uniting local stakeholders, government agencies, and international partners to intensify the fight against illegal fishing practices in South African waters and strengthen their commitment to ensuring the health and productivity of this vital resource.

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Facts about Illegal & Unregulated Fishing

  • According to estimates by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing activities result in global losses of approximately $23 billion per year.
  • Studies suggest that illegal fishing accounts for approximately 20% of the global marine catch.
  • The Global Ocean Commission estimates that approximately 90% of the world's fisheries are fully exploited, overexploited, or depleted.
  • IUU fishing costs South Africa an estimated $300-400 million annually. The practice affects the livelihoods of local fishers, as it leads to reduced fish populations and damages the ecosystem, causing a decline in overall productivity of the fishing sector.
  • Abalone, West Coast Rock Lobster, and Patagonian Toothfish are among the species which have been heavily targeted by IUU fishing. These high-value species are often poached and smuggled out of South Africa to meet the rising demand in international markets.

Top things to do in South Africa for this observance

  • Explore the Port State Measures that countries agreed to in order to prevent illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.
  • Watch a film to learn more about illegal fishing in South Africa. Here are our suggestions:
    1. Oceans of Crime (2018) - A documentary by Al Jazeera's Investigative Unit that examines illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in South Africa's waters and its impact on the environment and local communities.
    2. Fish Crime: Atlantic's Oceans of Crime (2016) - A short film by investigative journalist Estacio Valoi that explores the illegal fishing activity and devastation it causes along South Africa's coastline.
    3. Shifting Baselines: The Fish and The People of Simon's Town (2012) - A short documentary by Trina Holden that discusses the impacts of overfishing and illegal practices on the community and marine life in Simon's Town, South Africa.
  • South Africa has a network of Marine Protected Areas that safeguard critical marine habitats and species. Visit locations such as iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Table Mountain National Park, or the Robberg Marine Protected Area to appreciate the rich marine biodiversity and learn about the sustainable use of marine resources.

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