Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing is not supported by national laws, internationally agreed conversation measures, or fishing industries.

It’s often conducted in a country’s seas without permission.

The South-Eastern Pacific, North-Western Pacific, and South East Asia are IUU hotspots, however it occurs worldwide. IUU has many negative environmental, economic and social impacts, such as contributing to overfishing and affecting the sustainability of legal fisheries.

Because it can’t be regulated by the law or influenced as easily by animal welfare organisations, the scale of its negative impact on sea life is large – and growing.

More IUU means more ghost gear

Lost and abandoned fishing gear, known as ghost gear, is left behind by both legal and illegal fishers. However, illegal fisheries are more likely to lose or abandon theirs.

There are four main ways ghost gear is lost or abandoned by boats fishing illegally. Some illegal fishers dump their gear to avoid being caught, or to avoid being denied entry to a port. Some fish at night in conditions which make it more likely they’ll lose their nets, and some cut nets when they become entangled. Watch our videos about to learn more.

Some illegal fishers dump their gear to avoid being caught. Some fish at night in conditions which make it more likely they’ll lose their nets.

A shocking 640,000 tons of ghost gear is left in the world’s oceans each year, which entangles and kills more than 136,000 turtles, whales, seals, birds, and other sea animals.

Sadly, many of these animals suffer long, painful deaths.

We’re working hard and making great progress with the legal industry to stop ghost gear getting into our oceans.

Photos and videos

Our gallery shows illegal fishing's awful effects on sea life.

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