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.
A Global IUU Fishing Index, comprised of an appropriate suite of indicators for each country was established to solve these problems. It will be updated every few years, and will allow countries to be benchmarked against each other, to compare their own performance, and to track progress over time.
The very inclusion of specific indicators on different issues reflective of actual or potential illegal fishing, is intended to motivate countries to take specific action on those issues where they perform badly against those indicators. The Index is also potentially useful for private sector buyers of seafood as a source of data to inform sustainable sourcing policies, which in turn could serve to put pressure on countries to improve performance.
The Global IUU Fishing Index thereby serves as a tool to i) assess the extent of illegal fishing in countries and measure change over time, and ii) act as a driver of change in combatting illegal fishing.