UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean urges APEC leaders to stop unsustainable fishing

The UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean and Co-Chair of Friends of Ocean Action, Peter Thomson, has written to each of the leaders of the 21 Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies asking them to leverage the annual meeting in November to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

While recognizing the efforts that have been undertaken by APEC economies so far, through the adoption of the APEC Roadmap for Combatting IUU Fishing, Thomson highlights that greater action is still needed.

“For many APEC economies – and for other States in the Asia-Pacific Region that are not APEC members – sustainable fisheries are a major contributor to economic development, especially as the Covid-19 pandemic curtails other economic areas such as tourism. That economic development is threatened by continuing IUU fishing, an activity that steals massive quantities of fish from the ocean each year, robbing honest fishers of their livelihoods and taking billions of dollars out of national economies,” Thomson wrote in the letter.

The letter encourages leaders to show active support for three ambitions: the implementation of comprehensive and consistent port State measures[i] and related capacity-building initiatives across the Pacific; the reinstatement of conservation and management measures suspended by Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) during the pandemic as soon as is safely possible; and the elimination of subsidies contributing to IUU fishing[ii] across the Asia-Pacific region.

The APEC Leaders’ Meeting, taking place the week of 8 November and hosted by New Zealand, will be fully virtual for the first time and will shape the region’s future development directions for the coming years. It also takes place three weeks before the World Trade Organization’s Twelfth Ministerial Conference (MC12) where negotiators will decide whether to eliminate harmful fisheries subsidies

Media contact:

Gemma Parkes, Communications Lead, Friends of Ocean Action, gpa@weforum.org, +41793052977


[i] Port State measures can reduce unsustainable fishing by restricting vessels engaging in IUU fishing from landing or trans-shipping their catch.

[ii] The elimination of subsidies contributing to IUU fishing has been a controversial topic debated by World Trade Organization members for over 20 years