Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is an enduring threat to the sustainability and economic viability of fisheries nationally, regionally and globally.

IUU fishing refers to three basic areas:

  • Illegal – fishing that is considered illegal and against the rules and regulations that are in place for that jurisdiction or region.
  • Unreported – fish catches that are not reported or not reported correctly to the appropriate authorities.
  • Unregulated – fishing that is taking place by vessels without nationality, or in areas without any agreed rules or regulations being agreed to by the country or jurisdiction of the fisher.

Australia has a National Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate IUU Fishing which outlines Australia’s current and future actions to address IUU fishing.

AFMA also works closely with international partners to prevent and deter IUU fishing within the Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ) and areas of the high seas where Australia has an interest. The sustained and coordinated efforts of Australian Government agencies have been very successful in reducing IUU activities within, and adjacent to, the AFZ.

As the Commonwealth’s fisheries regulator, AFMA uses a multifaceted approach that recognises the dynamic and diverse nature of IUU fishing.

AFMA’s approach to combating IUU fishing is outlined in its International Compliance and Engagement Program 2020-22 and includes five components:

  1. Communication: Improving public understanding and awareness of AFMA’s activities to combat IUU fishing, including working with Australia’s neighbouring countries in sharing information and planning regional fisheries operations.
  2. Enforcement operations: Leading and supporting enforcement operations to support monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) activities in Australian waters and in areas of Australia’s interest.
  3. Strategic engagement: Working closely with other Australian Government departments and agencies in engaging with other countries, particularly Australia’s neighbours, to develop and promote regional strategies to address IUU fishing.
  4. Capability development and supplementation: Developing national and regional capacity to undertake risk-responsive MCS operations to combat IUU fishing, delivered through the provision of theoretical training, on-the-job mentoring and participation in regional fisheries surveillance operations.
  5. Targeted threat program: Implementation of a risk-based compliance approach to facilitate the effective and efficient deployment of AFMA’s resources to high-risk areas.

AFMA’s International Compliance and Engagement Program draws on the principles of regulatory compliance, and seeks to prioritise limited resources against key risk areas.