Global Fishing Watch welcomes new international alliance to increase fisheries transparency and end illegal fishing

Canada, United Kingdom and United States launch initiative to strengthen ambition and action in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing

Lisbon, Portugal – Global Fishing Watch welcomes an initiative by Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States to drive collective action and bolster global efforts to tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing through greater use of transparency, technology, and State and non-State partnerships.

Launched today at a side event co-hosted by Global Fishing Watch at the United Nations Ocean Conference, the three governments called on States to join the IUU Fishing Action Alliance by pledging to: implement national and international laws targeting IUU fishing; adopt the use of innovative technologies and; increase the transparency of fishing data to enhance fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance.

International Environment Minister, Lord Zac Goldsmith said: “Illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing is rife across the world, damaging ecosystems, impeding our ability to sustainably manage fish stocks and contributing hugely to global criminality. This needs to end and I am delighted to join forces with the U.S. and Canada to launch a world-first global alliance to tackle this pervasive threat. Through collaboration, innovation and transparency we can overcome this issue, and I urge other countries to come onboard.”

Internationally, IUU fishing is a major factor in declining fish stocks and marine habitat destruction. Canada is proud to be collaborating closely with the United States, United Kingdom and others in advancing new technologies, and sharing information. By working together on tools and training, we can better enforce joint efforts to fight the harms of IUU fishing and advance policy. Partnerships, such as the Joint Analytical Cell, will offer critical support in the fight against IUU.” said The Honorable Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.

The alliance highlights the importance of international partnerships, such as the newly formed Joint Analytical Cell (JAC), that ensure all States can access and effectively take advantage of shared fisheries information and technologies. Founded by the International Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Network, Global Fishing Watch and TMT, the JAC draws on the organizations’ expertise and technologies to provide authorities with fisheries intelligence, data analysis and capacity building to combat IUU fishing. This collaborative initiative seeks to maximize impact by inviting complementary groups to join and recently welcomed Skylight, a maritime monitoring product from the Allen Institute for AI, as a member.

“At the beginning of a new decade, with deadlines approaching for the Sustainable Development Goals, nations have a major opportunity to form new partnerships to harness emerging technologies to help stamp out IUU fishing.” said Tony Long, Chief Executive Officer at Global Fishing Watch. “Global Fishing Watch, and our partners in the Joint Analytical Cell, are committed to working with the IUU Fishing Action Alliance to promote transparency in fishing activity and support States in using open data and technology to secure sustainable, legal and ethical fisheries.”

The side event included other key announcements focused on fisheries transparency and technology:

  • Archives of satellite radar imagery: Canadian space technology company, MDA Ltd., announced it will share its archive of RADARSAT-2 satellite radar imagery with Global Fishing Watch. Radar imagery is especially useful for vessel detection given its ability to operate day and night and see through cloud and fog conditions. Global Fishing Watch recently released the first ever global map of previously undetected dark fleets using the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1 radar imagery archive. The addition of MDA’s data will allow Global Fishing Watch to detect more vessels, more frequently and in more locations. Global Fishing Watch will publish these insights for free on its map and in MDA’s Maritime Insights platform for fisheries users to shed more light on potentially illegal fishing activity.
  • Technology for marine protection: The government of the Pacific Island nation of Palau announced a new agreement with Global Fishing Watch to use the marine manager portal to enhance monitoring and management of its vast waters, including one of the world’s largest marine protected areas (MPAs). Global Fishing Watch Marine Manager is a freely available technology portal that provides dynamic and interactive data on ocean conditions, biology and human-use activity to support MPA design and management. Under the partnership, Palau and Global Fishing Watch will visualize trends in fishing and shipping activity and build and exchange capacity with the international ocean community.

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