IUU fishing poses a significant threat to sustainability of the world's marine resources. However there are few quantitative estimates of volumes of illegal catch, little way to compare illegal activity in different countries, and no global estimate. So just how significant the problem is, is not clear. At present there is also no way to track changes in illegal fishing and any progress in reducing illegal fishing over time. This leaves those advocating for reductions in levels of illegal fishing, and those wishing to fund actions aimed at reducing it, in the dark and clutching at piecemeal and sometimes unreliable and incomparable data when considering where advocacy and funding priorities should lie. Furthermore, the lack of any basis by which countries can be benchmarked against each other, poses a problem not just for those seeking to identify where interventions are most needed, but also for countries themselves in understanding their relative performance.
An IUU Fishing Index, comprised of an appropriate suite of 40 indicators for 152 maritime countries was developed. Indicators related to vulnerability, prevalence, and risks of IUU fishing. But also to coastal, flag, port, and market State responsibilities. A dedicated website for the Index was established (IUUFishingIndex.net) which allowed for data to be visualized through maps, and which provided country rankings, country profiles, and a report drawing on the results.