How to Stop Illegal Fishing in Africa:Options for Actions to Ensure Change at Regional and International Levels


As fish stocks decline and the demand for fish and seafood increases, illegal fishing and the trade of illegal fish is an attractive option for some operators. The main reason for this in commercial fisheries is to minimize operating costs in order to increase profits.

Developing countries are attractive areas for illegal fishing because they often: lack the capacity and resources to monitor their waters, have relatively unregulated labour markets, minimal controls on working conditions, operate tax havens or confidentiality of banking systems that facilitate the operation of ‘shell companies’, and provide opportunities for bribery and corruption – all of these attract, encourage and facilitate illegal fishing.

In recent years, despite significant challenges, African countries have demonstrated that through working together in regional and pan-African groups and through international cooperating they can make a difference in the fight to stop illegal fishing. Some examples include (i) African experiences and evidence incorporated into international processes, such as Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Ports State Measures Agreement (PSMA) negotiations and the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) in respect to issues of illegal fishing.

At regional level, many African countries have engaged among themselves to develop and implement regional policies to address llegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU|) fishing.

Sustainable networks have been developed to facilitate cooperation, notably the Stop Illegal Fishing, a Policy Working Group of the NEPAD Agency, is supporting cooperation among countries.

Strengthened engagement in compliance committees in such Regional Bodies, as Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMO), Regional Fisheries Bodies (RFB) or other shared water body Commissions have Compliance Committees.

Countries should build on these successes in order to improve sharing of information, publicising cases and demonstrating success.