Recommendation 6: International – capacity building

Direct the Secretaries of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, and State, the Administrator of USAID, and the Attorney General to coordinate with donors, multilateral institutions, and foreign governments and prioritize building capacity to sustainably manage fisheries and combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud.


IUU fishing and seafood fraud are global issues that can impact maritime and national security and require a global, concerted effort to combat. Enhancing other countries’ capacity for effective fisheries management and enforcement and prosecution of violations can ultimately improve U.S. marine resources. Many less-developed countries lack adequate maritime domain awareness, governance structures, and capable institutions to secure their Exclusive Economic Zone rights and prevent IUU fishing and other activities associated with illegal fishing and trade in illegally harvested fish. Assisting developing countries to strengthen their fisheries governance and enforcement can help regulators in other countries more carefully manage and monitor legitimate fishing and combat IUU fishing practices and help ensure seafood sold in different markets is produced in accordance with the applicable law.

Building capacity and political will to combat IUU fishing will be most successful when we recognize the broader context in which these activities occur, and undertake a strategic and comprehensive approach to fisheries sector reform and address associated criminal activities. IUU fishing and seafood fraud have different impacts that require different capacity building approaches across fishery sectors, including: industrial fisheries, small-scale fisheries, and aquaculture. Effective capacity building will require the use of strategic partnerships, a comprehensive approach to IUU fishing as a development issue, and coordinated delivery of U.S. government support.

Implementation Steps

Lead Agencies: NOAA, Department of State, and USAID
Other Agencies Involved: NOC Committee agencies as appropriate, including USFWS, DOJ, and DHS/USCG
  • By May 2015, NOAA, the Department of State, and USAID will convene an interagency working group consisting of experts from all interested agencies. This group will prioritize capacity building efforts across agencies, with international development organizations and non-federal organizations including coordinating with related efforts under the Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking, the White House Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime, and the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
  • By August 2015, the Department of Justice will form an IUU fishing and seafood fraud multinational advisory body in cooperation with INTERPOL, to inform the aforementioned U.S. interagency working group coordination process by:
    • Sharing information regarding multilateral or bilateral priority areas of IUU fishing and seafood
      fraud investigations.
    • Developing mechanisms for coordinated and targeted enforcement or interdiction actions to
      address priority areas.
    • Identifying needed international enforcement tools, and promoting development and implementation
      of these tools through the capacity building strategic plan to be defined by the interagency
      working group.
  • By January 2016, members of the interagency working group, in consultation with relevant donors,
    governments, technical organizations, industry, and the non-governmental community, will:
    • Define priority geographies and seafood species that present the most pressing problems with IUU fishing and seafood fraud.
    • Create an ongoing inventory of cooperation and assistance activities to include recently completed, ongoing, and planned activities implemented by the broad community of donors, technical groups, government, and non-governmental organizations working on these issues.
    • Complete a review of the types of interventions, best practices, and enforcement tools that have been successful in strengthening fisheries management and eliminating IUU fishing at national, regional, and global scales.
    • Encourage external development of innovative tools and technology to address IUU fishing and seafood fraud.
  • By April 2016, the interagency working group, in consultation with relevant government, donor, technical, industry, and non-governmental organizations and with appropriate public outreach, will develop a strategic, coordinated action plan for building capacity to strengthen fisheries management and eliminate IUU fishing.

São Tomé and Príncipe fishing canoes. West African nations are heavily impacted by IUU fishing. Photo Credit: NOAA Fisheries