The IMO, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) are boosting coordination to tackle IUU fishing.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a widespread challenge that covers a range of destructive fishing practices, occurring both in the high seas and within national territorial waters. It has been identified as one of the main threats to the conservation and sustainable use of the world’s fish stocks.

To discuss the issue, the Joint FAO/ILO/IMO Ad Hoc Working Group on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and Related Matters met for its 5th session in Geneva, Switzerland from 8-12 January 2024. Around 200 participants from various member states and international organizations participated in the event.



Chaired by Ghana, delegates adopted more than 50 recommendations for consideration by governing bodies/organs of the IMO, FAO and ILO. These covered interagency cooperation at national, reginal and international level; international processes and measures to combat IUU fishing; safety and working conditions in the fisheries sector; protection of the marine environment; and operational tools to tackle IUU fishing.

As part of the recommendations, the Joint Ad-Hoc Working Group urged Members who have not done so to accede to key legal instruments such as the IMO’s 2012 Cape Town Agreement to enhance fishing safety, the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel (STCW-F),  the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) and the Nairobi International Convention on Removal of Wrecks, as well as FAO’s  Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA) and ILO’s  Work in Fishing Convention (C.188).

The Group also urges FAO, ILO and IMO to promote, facilitate and support the initiatives relating to Port State Control (PSC) regimes plan to initiate or strengthen inspection for fishing vessels, and the adoption of a policy for the inspection of fishing vessels, in particular through relevant technical support and capacity building projects.

In this regard, the Group encouraged the development of the initiatives within other regions similar to the pilot project involving the Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understanding on port State control (IOMoU) and Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC). This is with a view to improving the coordination and efficiency of the implementation of the respective fishing vessel inspection instruments (including PSMA, CTA and C.188).

The Group put forward practical proposals such as the development of guidance documents on international instruments for use at the national level, producing an implementation strategy for the management of abandoned, lost, discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) and setting up an intersessional expert meeting for improving the reporting of casualty data for fishing vessels.

The recommendations will be submitted to the Sub-Committee on Implementation of IMO Instruments (III) at its 10th session in July 2024 as well as  governing bodies of FAO and ILO.

The work of the Joint Working Group builds on the ongoing partnership between the three agencies around the fishing sector, in line with each organization’s mandate: IMO for maritime safety and security, and the protection of the marine environment; FAO for fisheries in general; and ILO for labour standards in the fishing industry.

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