Coral and Ulua found in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Coral reefs found in Papahānaumokuākea are home to over 7,000 marine species, one quarter of which are found only in the Hawaiian Archipelago. (Original source and more information: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Ocean Service Image Gallery)

Conserving and managing shared fisheries resources requires international cooperation, multilateral diplomacy, and information sharing.  From supporting communities,   food security, and livelihood security, to the impact that fisheries can have on the environment, to the trade of seafood around the globe, work to support sustainable fisheries management is a development, economic, and environmental issue.  Building international cooperation to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing is an important piece of broader efforts to tackle other security issues including trafficking, terrorism, and multinational crime.  The United States engages through several international organizations of which we are members, including the United Nations (UN), the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and its Committee on Fisheries, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and other agreements focused on the conservation and management of living marine resources, which provide a forum for States to discuss international fisheries issues and to develop approaches for addressing them.   The Department of State works closely with other U.S. agencies, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries), to represent U.S. interests within these organizations.

Fish at the United Nations

The UN Fish Stocks Agreement provides an important framework for cooperation to ensure long-term conservation and sustainable use of straddling and highly migratory fish stocks.  The United States engages in processes at the UN to enhance the effective implementation of the Agreement and promotes consistency with the Agreement in regional fisheries management organization (RFMOs) and other national and international activities.

Fisheries issues are also annually debated by the UN General Assembly in the negotiation of its Sustainable Fisheries resolution.  These resulting resolutions often take the international debate forward on issues of key concern.  For example, in recent years these resolutions have addressed IUU fishing, science-based management of fish stocks, the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems, and bycatch management and reduction, among many other issues.

UN Food and Agriculture Organization

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), through its Committee on Fisheries (COFI), is the global forum with competency over fisheries and aquaculture issues.  The United States actively participates in COFI and its two subcommittees on aquaculture and fish trade.  As both a major fishing State and a major market State, the United States has led efforts within the FAO in the last several decades to improve fisheries management and fight IUU fishing.  Through the FAO, the United States has supported the development of the International Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, an International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter, and Eliminate IUU Fishing , and various international plans of action and guidelines for fisheries management.  We also adopted our own National Plan of Action in 2004.  The United States was also a leader in the negotiations of the Port State Measures Agreement and the creation of the Global Record of Fishing Vessels, Refrigerated Transport Vessels and Supply Vessels through FAO.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future