Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and Climate Change

A trailblazing project examining the impact of climate change on criminal drivers behind large-scale illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

A warmer future presents a range of new challenges for local, national and global efforts to counter IUU fishing. As the number and distribution of fish populations shift in response to rising oceanic temperatures, offenders will adapt, profiting from new opportunities and altering their modus operandi. Most of the current research has focused on the current dynamics of IUU fishing and the threats it poses to ocean ecosystems. As part of the Forecasting Environmental Crime Futures in a Warming World programme, this project will demonstrate the pivotal importance of a futures-orientated lens.

Aims and objectives

Core research questions to be explored during the project include:

  • What role will climate change play over the next 5–10 years in changing IUU fishing patterns worldwide, and what implications will climate change have on the associated threats and enabling crimes?
  • How will broader land-based climate change effects influence the drivers of IUU fishing, particularly in the context of local livelihoods?
  • What risks, threats and opportunities do these shifts pose for our ability to disrupt organised criminal perpetrators?
  • How will climate change impact existing legislative frameworks, international agreements, and cooperative mechanisms – as well as current enforcement models?

We aim to answer these questions by harnessing collaborative expert knowledge. Any person or organisation interested in contributing expertise and insight will be able to submit a written contribution on the most pressing issue(s) concerning the future of IUU fishing.

Project outputs

An expert panel will analyse the data gathered to inform a major research paper on potential threats, opportunities and likely future developments in IUU fishing worldwide. The project will also publish three case studies, exploring the already demonstrable impact of climate change on IUU fishing. Finally, RUSI will launch a six-part podcast series, highlighting the complex nature of the challenge.