Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association

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© Peter Chadwick

IUU Fishing In The Small-Scale Fisheries Of The Western Indian Ocean region

Illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing remains one of the greatest threats to marine ecosystems in Africa. The Western Indian Ocean (WIO) is experiencing a remarkable depletion of marine resources and considerable environmental and economic damage due to IUU.


Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs) are critical to protecting important marine habitats and species in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO). Unfortunately, illegal fishers target MPAs and LMMAs on purpose because they know the fish are more abundant in the MPAs. IUU fishing takes advantage of weak MPA management regimes, particularly where MPAs lack the capacity and resources for effective monitoring, control, and surveillance (MCS).

To restore fish stocks, protect marine and coastal ecosystems, and regenerate the ocean’s health, the WIO region aims to improve the management effectiveness of existing MPAs and LMMAs and increase their coverage to protect critical ecosystems (hence securing the integrity of these vital features of the broader seascape) while unlocking the development potential of the blue economy by securing and enhancing direct benefits to coastal communities. Addressing IUU fishing remains a critical goal to achieve this goal; however, IUU fishing, particularly in Small-scale Fisheries (SSFs), is poorly understood.

A fact-finding study on IUU fishing in WIO SSFs is being conducted as part of this project to improve understanding and regional awareness of IUU fishing in SSFs and to improve MPA management in the Western Indian Ocean region.

WIOMSA is leading the study, which is being funded by the Blue Nature Alliance as part of the Alliance’s ocean conservation work in the WIO region to improve the management effectiveness of MPAs and LMMAs, as well as to improve local livelihoods and community fisheries through biodiversity protection.

Perceptions of IUU Fishing in the Small-Scale Fisheries of the Western Indian Ocean – A Questionnaire-based Index

Perceptions of IUU Fishing in the Small-Scale Fisheries of the Western Indian Ocean - A Questionnaire-based Index

This Index has two main components.

  1. The first component sought to capture attributes of the fisheries management context in which IUU fishing may, or may not, be taking place. This component included questions on co-management arrangements, access rights and management tools.

  2. The second component then sought to capture perceptions on IUU in the respective fisheries and countries. 

The SSF Index comprises the following two elements:

1. National Vulnerability Context Factors: Six indicators reflecting governance and macro-economics and which in simple terms establish the wider context in which fisheries, and their management, operate.
2. Fishery-level IUU Vulnerability & IUU Prevalence: A suite of 23 vulnerability indicators and 21 IUU prevalence indicators.


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