A Leader in The Economist says illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing accounts for a staggering 20-50% of the global catch.
It is one reason that fish stocks are plummeting: just a fifth of commercial species are sustainably fished. Illegal operators rob mostly poor coastal states of over US $20 billion a year and threaten the livelihoods of millions of small fishermen.
North Korean coastal waters have been so pillaged that its fishermen have to motor their rickety craft far out into stormy seas to fill their nets. Thousands have drowned.
Satellite and other imagery has revealed “dark fleets” of fishing boats that turn off their transponders and plunder the ocean’s bounty.
Illegal fishing has a negative influence on both regular commercial fishermen and fish populations. Illegal fishermen save money by not having to pay for things like licenses. They fish without the restrictions that licensed fishermen must adhere to, frequently fabricate papers, and essentially ‘launder’ their illegal catch. Because they operate without the costs of doing business lawfully or the constraints of adhering to established policies and laws, illegal fishermen’s actions are a clear case of unfair competition.