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Studies in Intelligence 67, No. 1 (Extracts, March 2023)

Intelligence on the High Seas: Using Intelligence to Counter Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing

By Peter C. Oleson

Author’s note: This article is the result of two years of examination of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in the Pacific by the International Maritime Security Exchange (IMSE) working group. It draws from the proceedings of the IMSE conferences in Hawaii in 2021 and 2022, as well as work by journalists such Ian Urbina (New York Times). A list of resources on IUU fishing, including IMSE presentations, is provided at the end of this article.

Countering IUU Fishing is an Intelligence Problem

Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a worldwide problem. According to a US Coast Guard (USCG) report on the subject in 2020, “IUU fishing has replaced piracy as the leading global maritime security threat. If IUU fishing continues

unchecked, we can expect deterioration of fragile coastal States and increased tension among foreign-fishing nations, threatening geopolitical stability around the world.” There are many aspects to the problem. Illegal fishing is conducted in waters under the jurisdiction of a state but without the permission of that state. Unreported fishing involves catch that has not been reported, as required. Unregulated fishing occurs where there are no management measures and is conducted in a manner inconsistent with

treaty responsibilities.

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