Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing is not supported by national laws, internationally agreed conversation measures, or fishing industries.

It’s often conducted in a country’s seas without permission.

The South-Eastern Pacific, North-Western Pacific, and South East Asia are IUU hotspots, however, it occurs worldwide. IUU has many negative environmental, economic and social impacts, such as contributing to overfishing and affecting the sustainability of legal fisheries.

Because it can’t be regulated by the law or influenced as easily by animal welfare organisations, the scale of its negative impact on sea life is large – and growing.

More IUU means more ghost gear

Lost and abandoned fishing gear, known as ghost gear, is left behind by both legal and illegal fishers. However, illegal fisheries are more likely to lose or abandon theirs.

There are four main ways ghost gear is lost or abandoned by boats fishing illegally. Some illegal fishers dump their gear to avoid being caught, or to avoid being denied entry to a port. Some fish at night in conditions which make it more likely they’ll lose their nets, and some cut nets when they become entangled. Watch our videos about IUU to learn more.

Some illegal fishers dump their gear to avoid being caught. Some fish at night in conditions which make it more likely they’ll lose their nets.

A shocking 640,000 tonnes of ghost gear is left in the world’s oceans each year, which entangles and kills around 136,000 turtles, whales, seals, birds, and other sea animals.

Sadly, many of these animals suffer long, painful deaths.

We’re working hard and making great progress with the legal industry to stop ghost gear getting into our oceans.

How we’re helping

Photos and videos

Our gallery shows illegal fishing's awful effects on sea life.

Now we’re helping tackle IUU fishing and the deadly traps it leaves behind for sea life.

Our CEO Steve McIvor has written to the world’s 10 largest navies – including the United States Navy and Russian Navy – calling on them to help prevent and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. In his letter, Steve urges these navies to increase patrols and help end the unlawful industry.

All IUU fishing must be stopped. It contributes to the harm or death of marine life and damage to marine ecosystems, as well as overfishing.

Learn more about the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) – an alliance of companies and organisations – and how it’s helping to crack down on ghost gear and protect sea life globally.

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