The issue of Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and their harmful effects are hardly a new problem. Decades of overfishing has led to an imminent crisis in fish stocks around the world, where they are over-exploited and unsustainable. IUU fishing is a broad term that captures a wide variety of fishing activities, but one might summarize that Illegal fishing is when a ship is engaged in unreported fishing, or incorrectly reported fishing that the relevant national authorities or organizations do not receive and violates applicable laws and regulations. These fisheries are often pursued by non-national ships or ships flying the flag of a state which is not authorized to engage in general fishing within the jurisdiction of a coastal state, or offshore fishing under the control of a regional fisheries management organization (RFMO).

These offenses happen in every level of the value-chain both at sea and in land when the seafood is processed and sold. According to figures from 2018, about 20% of all fish and fish products on the world market are estimated to originate from illegal fishing. The estimated value of these fish products is about 23.5 billion dollars.

Illegal fishing causes great economic and social damage to every nation state facing this problem, distorting the markets, shedding the foundations of fish stocks, and causing the resource to dwindle. This is a particularly serious problem for smaller island countries in the southern hemisphere, as these island communities base their livelihood almost exclusively on fisheries, compromising their economy and food security.

Legally caught fish from the Atlantic Ocean

Monitoring vessel behaviour in real time around the world

In recent years, as the international community intensified its fight against IIU fishing, several nation states and regional fisheries organizations have sought out Trackwell’s services. The Trackwell Vessel Monitoring System (Trackwell VMS) is a software for Fisheries Monitoring Centers (FMC) that allows our customers to monitor their Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) for fishing activities. The system offers extensive options, enabling users to use positional data received to closely observe hazardous areas and analyse basic fishing behaviour for law enforcement purposes. The system is fully compliant with international fisheries regulations and facilitates exchange of information between authorities, neighbouring countries and regional fisheries offices.

The system supports integration and compatibility with the FLUX (Fisheries Language for Universal Exchange) system to assist and support the distribution of fisheries-related data to e.g. RFMO´s

Australia is one of the leading fisheries nations that uses Trackwell VMS to manage the activity for thousands of commercial fishing vessels within the third largest EEZ in the world. The system helps the Australian Commonwealth and selective state and territory fisheries agencies ensure continuous compliance with fisheries management regulations. Trackwell also serves regional fisheries management organizations such as the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), who both play an important role in the fight against illegal fishing in the Pacific. Finally, the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) should also be mentioned as a premier client in which, Trackwell VMS is used to manage four thousand vessels in the Pacific Ocean for the twenty-six FFA and WCPFC member states.

Trade in illegally caught fish and its products are extensive and practiced across borders. The international community is constantly calling for increased action and Trackwell has responded, steadily securing its position as a leading service and retailer of Fisheries Control Systems worldwide as a result.