Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a recognised global problem that undermines the integrity of responsible fisheries management arrangements, and results in lost value to coastal states (e.g. FAO 2002; Agnew et al. 2009). The first attempt at quantifying the value and volume of IUU fishing in tuna fisheries within the Pacific Islands region was undertaken in 2016 using data from 2010–2015 (MRAG Asia Pacific 2016). That study estimated the total volume of product either harvested or transshipped involving IUU activity in Pacific tuna fisheries was 306,440 t, with an ex-vessel value of USD 616 million. Nevertheless, the authors noted that the data and information underlying many of the estimates were highly uncertain and that the outputs should be seen as a “first cut”.
In order to assess changes in the nature and extent of IUU fishing since that time, this study was commissioned as part of the Global Environment Facility-funded Pacific Islands Oceanic Fisheries Management Project II to undertake a 2020 update of the original estimates. The aim was to undertake an “apples vs apples” update of the original estimates, using a consistent methodology and taking into account the latest available information. The study period covered the years 2017–2019. Importantly, this preceded any COVID-19 related impacts on monitoring, control and surveillance, and IUU activity in the region.
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