Illegal fishing
Illegal, unregulated or unreported (IUU) fishing now accounts for about 20% of all marine fish caught and at least a quarter of all fish caught. IUU fishing includes catching undersized fish, fishing in closed waters or taking more fish than allowed. Most coastal nations have exclusive economic zones in which offshore fishing is prohibited. International agreements also prohibit the fishing of protected species on the high seas. However, advocates say there is little enforcement or punishment for illegal fishing. Much of the damage to fisheries is caused by fleets of large international commercial fishing trawlers. Advocates say most of these large fishing operations abide by the law. That said, many others fish without licenses, use illegal fishing gear, conceal their identities and fail to report catches. Fishing fleets now use modern technology to pursue and catch fish in virtually every part of every ocean. These fleets offload their catch onto large processing vessels which process, freeze and transport huge quantities of fish, allowing trawlers to continue fishing nearly non-stop. Some now call commercial fishing operations “the last buffalo hunt,” with too many fishing boats chasing a dwindling number of fish which have no place to hide. Many millions of people throughout the world depend on fisheries for employment, sustenance and recreation. Advocates say that if there is to be enough fish for current and future generations, everyone involved in fishing must help conserve and manage the world’s fisheries at sustainable levels.

Recent surveillance off the coast of West Africa has documented 60 cases of illegal fishing by ships of a Chinese state-owned company charged with developing fishing in distant seas. Some of these ships were reporting incorrect location data, including data that suggested they were in Mexican waters, or even on land. The number of these fishing boats operating in Africa has increased from 13 in 1985 to 462 in 2013. Advocates say the Chinese ships were "taking advantage of weak enforcement and supervision from local and Chinese authorities to the detriment of local fishermen and the environment."

Pending Legislation:
H.R.774 - Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Enforcement Act of 2015

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Poll Opening Date
February 13, 2020
Poll Closing Date
February 19, 2020

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