Skip to main content


IUU safe havens or PSMA ports: A global assessment of port State performance and risk

The 2009 Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA) was the first legally binding international instrument to
empower port States to deny foreign vessels suspected of having engaged in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing from using their ports and to land catches. This paper builds upon previous work analyzing 2020 AIS data to rank fishing ports globally and assessing evolving port State risk and port States performance in PSMA implementation.

Global Scope and Economics of Illegal Fishing - Marine Policy

This study presents a cost-benefit analysis of engaging in IUU fishing. The benefits of IUU fishing include an increase in the amount of catch realized, a low cost of fishing, and lower effort per catch, while costs include the likelihood of being detected, how much it takes to avoid detection, and how severe the penalties are if caught. The study concludes that there are simply too many benefits and not enough costs to not engage in IUU fishing–meaning that detection would have to be higher, fines levied would have to be higher, and costs of fishing would have to decrease. The economic gains realized from IUU fishing corroborate why it is so widespread globally but is also another way to think about how to best regulate the practice and put an end to IUU fishing.

The IUU Fishing Index

The IUU fishing index was created to provide a benchmark for 152 coastal countries on their exposure and response to IUU fishing. With this benchmark, various parties (governments, RFMOs, donors) can recognize where intervention is needed. With the scores of each country divided by responsibility (coastal, flag, port, general) and type of action to combat IUU fishing (vulnerability, prevalence, response), the paper calculated a score for every coastal country. With this index as a benchmark, bodies around the world can begin to recognize where help is needed to combat IUU fishing and provide personalized responses, with well-performing countries serving as a point of comparison.