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Report of the FAO Expert Workshop on Transshipment and IUU Fishing

The Committee on Fisheries (COFI) undertook a global report on transshipment activities including the state of transshipment regulations and practices, guidance on specific control mechanisms for transshipment, and the state of independent monitoring and control over transshipment. The COFI held a workshop to overlook their report and the Global Stakeholder Survey responses they received from 91 States. The workshop concluded, among various other findings, that transshipment threatens the marine environment and human rights abuses without effective monitoring and control. However, the practice is an important cost-effective fishing operation and does not in itself pose a threat to what was previously discussed–further research must be done to see the extent of illicit transshipment operations.

Potential Ecological and Social Benefits of a Moratorium on Transshipment on the High Seas

RFMOs have the role of managing fisheries on the high seas. However, they have been under scrutiny before in their conservation of fish and monitoring and enforcing legislation. With transshipment at high seas becoming an increasingly salient issue, strong RFMO enforcement is ever more needed. This study examined all RFMOs' regulations and gave them a score on stringency. While RFMOs have not become less stringent since the late 1990s, the study concludes that a moratorium on transshipment at sea is needed to alleviate the lack of comprehensive monitoring, control, and surveillance.

Observer Reporting of Transshipments in WCPFC

The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) manages fishing activity in the Western and Central Pacific Oceans, one of the largest areas in the world and one of the most valuable fisheries in the world. However, their ability to enforce transshipment rules to prevent IUU fishing is severely lacking due to insufficient funds and resources, specifically when it comes to onboard observers. The observers have failed at monitoring the activities of both the fishing vessel and carrier vessel during transshipment and reporting that information for independent verification. By adopting rules already in use by other t-RFMOs, the WCPF can significantly improve its current transshipment regime.

No More Hiding at Sea - Transshipping Exposed

Using Global Fishing Watch data, Oceana identified where the hotspots for transshipment events worldwide. Many of the hotspots for transshipment were in areas where transshipment may be under less scrutiny. The Sea of Okhotsk has a long history of IUU fishing, but the Russian and Japanese EEZ zones account for more than 50 percent of the total likely transshipment events globally. Or the waters of Guinea-Bissau, a country unable to enforce strict transshipment regulation compliance, was another hotspot. The report shows how transshipment activity patterns arise based on the location, facilitating additional research into the nature of transshipments in these areas.

Legal Opinion on Transshipment in Ghana

Through examination of Ghana's Fisheries Act of 2002 and Fisheries Regulation of 2010, the TaylorCrabbe Initiative seeks to answer what the legal status of Transshipment in Ghana is and if the Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development can allow transshipment at sea from industrial trawlers to canoes. Under their legal reasoning, they find that no act has allowed the transshipment of fish from local trawlers to canoes. The Fisheries Commission or Council can authorize forms of transshipment, but not the Minister. Unless the transshipment has been approved and properly supervised, transshipment in Ghana is illegal.

Identifying Global Patterns of Transshipment Behavior

Transshipment at high seas is very difficult to monitor, allowing the possibility of illegally caught fish to enter the legitimate seafood market, or enabling human rights abuses. This paper uses AIS data to track global transshipment behavior. They find that a majority of transshipment occurs at high seas outside of EEZ boundaries–areas that may lack national jurisdiction or where regulations are difficult to enforce. Additionally, possible transshipment encounters are happening with vessels flying flags of convenience. Together, these findings paint a scene of large transparency issues in global transshipment behaviors that will need to be addressed by governing bodies.

Global View of Transshipment - Preliminary Findings - GFW

In this research study, Global Fishing Watch uses AIS information to identify where transshipment can be happening and who is doing it. About 42 percent of potential rendezvous (what is identified through AIS data to track transshipments) occur on the high seas, with the rest happening within the EEZs of different nations–especially Russia. It is concerning, however, that those areas with higher levels of reported IUU fishing correlate with areas of high potential rendezvous. With such a high level of transshipments occurring on high seas, the global community could not only benefit from using AIS data to identify illegal transshipments but must also cooperate to address lax oversight and control.

Global Hot Spots of Transshipment of Fish Catch at Sea

This study uses AIS data to identify when and where transshipment occurs, which fisheries and fleets are most involved in the practice, and what proportion of the high-seas catch is transshipped versus landed directly, altogether giving a detailed account of global seafood supply chains. Among many other findings, the study finds that fishing in EEZs was mainly landed directly, but on high seas, transshipment largely predominated. Fleet usage also differed with trawlers mainly used in EEZs and longline fishing dominated at high seas. The study ultimately shows how the type of catch and its location shape the infrastructure of the supply food chain involved (i.e. a history of poor monitoring, low compliance, and weak enforcement correlates with a large number of transshipments in Russian waters.) The findings of this study can aid in identifying where illicit activity can be happening and what warrants more monitoring, control, and surveillance.

Flags of Convenience Transshipment, Re-supply and At-Sea Infrastructure in Relation to IUU Fishing

This study begins by identifying the trends in usage of flags of convenience (FOC). Using the Lloyd's Register database, they compile a list of fourteen countries that consistently top lists of FOC countries or are of particular concern to IUU fishing. Despite the adoption of enforcement pieces like the UN FAO IPOA, registration to these fourteen countries has only slightly declined and new vessel constructions are largely registering with FOC countries. Next, the database helps determine the role and character of the at-sea transshipment, refueling, and resupply fleets in supporting the operations of high-value tuna longline fleets and other fishing fleets on the high seas. Many of these vessels engage in a combination of participating in IUU transshipment as well as legal vessels fishing for tuna.

Fishy Business - How Transshipment at Sea Facilitates IUU Fishing that Devastates our Oceans

Greenpeace undertook a research project to understand the extent of misuse of AIS by the global reefer industry. Greenpeace identified and studied 416 reefers that make up the majority of vessels that have transshipped at sea in the period 2017-2019. From these vessels, Greenpeace found multiple instances of violations of AIS, with proof in adopting 'flags of convenience' (most commonly, Panama), the behavior of vessel interactions with 'encounter' and 'loitering,' and transshipment in areas that are unregulated or pose a threat to marine habitats. The continued violations of AIS by reefers, according to Greenpeace, calls for a robust Global Ocean Treaty that will stop these harmful activities and protect our oceans.

Domino Effects of Cumulative Bias and Erroneous Data in Fisheries Big-Data Mapping Models - Case Study of GFW View on Transshipments - FishSpektrum

Without a Worldwide Unique Vessel Identifier (WUVI) database, the International community has largely relied on data in self-created combined vessel lists for spatiotemporal mappings of fishing presence, effort, and footprint. Projects match fishing vessel registration identifiers to their alleged AIS MMSI numbers using these vessel lists. This study aims to prove that this method has yielded a large number of erroneous ship identification references. Global Fishing Watch, one of the largest vessel identification projects, is crosschecked with the vessel data that the study gathered and found that it suffers from major flaws and biases. Such errors put at risk both the creditability of the GFW and private/independent fisheries monitoring control & surveillance (MCS) initiatives. Not only should projects use more scientific responsibility, but a worldwide database could also help end the data-gathering methods that brought these mistakes about.

Collective Best Practices for Well-Managed at Sea Transshipment

Agreed on by leading NGOs engaged in global tuna sustainability, the best practices outlined ensure that at-sea transshipment is well-managed and transparent. The best practices come in three facets: management best practices, data reporting best practices, and monitoring best practices. The policies include 100 percent observer coverage either human or electronic for all at-sea transshipment events, require information on all at-sea transshipment events to be shared with the relevant RFMO, prohibit vessels from acting as both a fishing vessel and carrier vessel on the same trip and a multitude of other policies that fisheries can work towards implementing.

Characterizing Transshipment at-sea Activities by Longline and Purse Seine Fisheries in Response to Recent Policy Changes in Indonesia

To combat IUU fishing facilitated by at-sea transshipment, the Indonesian government banned the activity in 2014. Enforcing the ban, however, has been difficult due to the challenges of detecting and monitoring transshipment activities at sea. This study provides a suite of indicators for longline and purse seine fisheries in Indonesian waters as a useful tool to underpin monitoring, control, and surveillance activities to reduce IUU fishing. Through this analysis, the extent of increased enforcement and legislation managing transshipment puts Indonesia at the forefront of nations addressing IUU fishing.

Best Practices for Transshipment - Global Reforms to Policies for Transferring Catch at Sea would Help Combat Illegal Fishing

The inadequate regulatory control and monitoring of transshipment, especially at sea, create gaps that enable illicit activity. Recognizing this inadequacy and its consequences, the Pew Charitable Trusts calls for a ban on transshipment until best practices are implemented. They outline multiple best practices across three categories, reporting, monitoring, and data-sharing. By implementing these practices, all parties can be assured that adequate guidelines are in place to make transshipment a more effective and safe practice, not contributing to IUU fishing.

A Review of Management and Reporting Trends Related to Transshipment Occurring within the IOTC Convention Area

The number of reported high-seas transshipment events in the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) Convention Area has increased by over 94% between 2014 and 2018. This growth in transshipment activity has not been met with equal management and monitoring regulations. The Commission implemented Resolution 18-06 requiring that all transshipments occur in port but allows large-scale tuna fishing vessels (LSTVs) to transship at sea if they are authorized by their flag CPC and comply with other specific requirements. However, this paper analyzes transshipment operations reported to have occurred within the IOTC Convention Area and finds that the resolution has flaws and that high-seas transshipment is increasing with insufficient monitoring and compliance. All of these problems are given a recommendation on how to address them.

A Review of Management and Reporting Trends Related to Transshipment Occurring in the WCPFC

The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) has seen a staggering growth in transshipment activity within its Convention Area. Using publicly available information on transshipment
operations within the WCPFC, the WCPFC provides an analysis of transshipment and recognizes the need for additional management rules on transshipment within its Convention Area. Their analysis shows flaws in managing transshipment events and sharing and reporting data between other RFMOs and within their own carrier observers. Implementation of the best practices developed by the Pew Charitable Trusts could be a solution to this issue.

The PSMA Implementation Toolkit - Pew

The UN adopted the Port State Measures Agreement (PMSA) in 2009 to stop the use of ports by IUU fishing and support vessels. However cost-effective they are, in many countries, particularly developing countries, a comprehensive set of tools is needed to support the practical implementation of the Agreement. To achieve this, the Pew Environmental Group developed the PMSA Toolkit, a resource that aims to help developing countries identify their capacity needs, provide them with key information, and guide them through the most technical and detailed elements of the Agreement.

Ports Task Force Ghana

The Ports Task Force Ghana (PTFG) is working diligently to implement the National Strategy and Action Plan for the implementation of the 2009 FAO Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and complimentary international instruments and mechanisms. They have identified the threats of allowing IUU fishing to move through their ports for what it does to local fisheries, the economy, and the country's people. Through a detailed course of action and various partnerships, PTFG will work to bring an end to vessels suspected of participating in IUU from entering Ghana's ports.

Keeping Illegally Caught Fish Out of African Ports

IUU fishing contributes to the over-exploitation of natural fisheries resources and is detrimental to coastal communities' quality of life. IUU fishing has targeted African ports, which are at particularly great harm from the practice. To deter IUU fishing, the Port State Measure Agreement (PMSA) came into force to enable port officials to deny foreign vessels access to their port and services such as refueling and repairs if suspected of illegal activities. However, Stop Illegal Fishing recognizes the agreement itself is not enough. With the support of others, they will work to implement the PMSA in African countries through a holistic approach that requires looking at legal and policy issues, compliance and enforcement, and cooperation and awareness.

A Capacity Needs Assessment Methodology - Building Capacity to Close Ports to Illegal Fishing Vessels and their Support Vessels - Pew

The UN's ambitious PMSA intends to stop IUU vessels from entering port and ensure that vessels are complying with conservation and management measures, among other responsibilities. However, developing nations were concerned about the resources required to build this capacity. In response, the PEW Environment group is working to create a Capacity Needs Assessment (CNA) methodology, a tool states can use to find a personalized strategy in implanting the PSMA. The PMSA capacity building needs run the risk of being unfeasible for developing nations, but this CNA methodology provides a clear and accessible tool for bridging this divide.