Many thanks. It has been great to listen to today’s discussion; it is clear that there is growing innovation, partnership, creativity, and commitment in this room to fight against IUU fishing.
But we are losing this battle right now. It’s time to take it up a notch.
1/3 of fish stocks are overfished and one in five fish caught originates from IUU.
We know the problem: IUU fishing is hurting our ocean, our people, and our planet. It damages our environment, it undermines the rule of law, it skews our markets, it endangers law-abiding fishers, and it harms communities that rely on fish.
We talk a lot about illegal fishing in particular, and illegal labor on fishing vessels. How could anyone be for it? But by our inaction we are allowing vessels knowingly sanctioned by governments to engage in IUU fishing under their flag or jurisdiction.
A few bad actors are making this problem much worse. Owners are profiting. Governments are letting them.
The good news is that we also know the solution: by working together, by taking our commitments seriously, by increasing transparency, and by sharing information and innovations, we can drive illegal operators out of business and strengthen our maritime security. We can ensure that fishing is safe, transparent, and sustainable.
We need to take what we know and do more. It is time for a renewed push for action.
Is it any wonder when people around the world are losing faith in governance – when we governments fail to back our words with action?
I’m excited to be part of this group here today who are part of that solution. And together with Canada and the UK, the United States is proud to launch the new IUU Fishing Action Alliance.
By bringing together our partners who are leading the fight against IUU fishing – countries, organizations, and stakeholders alike – we will increase ambition, momentum, and, most importantly, action, in the fight against IUU fishing.
We’ve seen that IUU fishing thrives where governance and cooperation fail. It is enabled by poor information sharing and a patchwork system of disjointed regulations and capabilities.
I’ll say it again: in order to achieve any success in combatting IUU fishing, we must work together.
Through the IUU Fishing Action Alliance, we can pledge to take urgent action to improve the monitoring, control, and surveillance of fisheries, increase transparency in fishing fleets and in the seafood market, and build new partnerships that will close the net on bad actors.
We call on all nations- those who are able to help take the boats out of the water and those who are being stolen from or need help to better manage fishing- to join. We need you.
We can build upon previous international commitments and agreements to create new networks and avenues for combatting IUU fishing and related maritime security challenges. We can innovate and mobilize new tools in new ways to help us share knowledge and experience.
As we heard from the panel earlier, transparency and data sharing are essential to understand the full complexity of the IUU fishing problem, both on the high seas and in national waters. A better understanding of the problem will allow us to pinpoint and target the vessel owners and operators who profit from breaking the rules.
Of course, to reach their full potential, technology and data tools require the backing of governments, fisheries management organizations, civil society, and the private sector. These tools need to be backstopped by strong monitoring and enforcement measures. Most importantly, the information we generate together needs to quickly get into the hands of those that can effectively act on it.
The new Joint Analytical Cell (JAC) is a phenomenal example of how different groups can come together to harness existing technologies to amplify fisheries intelligence, data analysis, and capacity building.
And it is great to hear other examples of innovative partnerships between governments and the private sector that will expand our reach and increase our impact.
These examples show us that we can and must be ambitious in our approach to combatting IUU fishing around the world.
The United States is ready to address each layer of the problem, and is bringing to Lisbon a host of new tools to do so.
President Biden has just signed a new National Security Memorandum setting out a comprehensive framework for how the U.S. government will use the full range of existing conservation, labor, trade, economic, diplomatic, law enforcement, and national security authorities to address IUU fishing and associated criminal activities such as the use of forced labor in the seafood supply chain.
Under our Maritime SAFE Act, we have created a whole-of-government effort to make sure we are bringing all of the tools and resources we have available to tackle the interrelated threats of IUU fishing and related maritime security risks in priority regions around the world.
We are expanding our maritime enforcement agreements with new partners to amplify countries’ abilities to monitor their waters and their fisheries. And we are strengthening our ability to keep the products of IUU fishing and forced labor out of markets.
This is an enormous effort, but – I can’t say this often enough! This is a global problem. That is why we are so eager to invite others to join the Action Alliance in the days ahead. Please join us!
We are at a crossroads. This is our chance to stand together as a diverse group of committed partners, who are ready to lead the fight against IUU fishing and support sustainable fisheries around the world. We are counting on you to join us.