TNRC Knowledge Hub - Conservation Challenge: Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing

Image representing TNRC's four focus areas: wildlife, fisheries, forests, and finance

Targeting Natural Resource Corruption

Harnessing knowledge, generating evidence, and supporting innovative policy and practice for more effective anti-corruption programming

Countering Corruption Behind Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing

To address corruption that facilitates illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, complement enforcement efforts with strengthened traceability systems, improved global financial and corporate transparency requirements, and auditable catch documentation.

Does your work focus on addressing illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing? Are you concerned that corruption is driving negative outcomes? This page outlines three steps to start building anti-corruption approaches into your conservation programming.


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The Challenge


  • Corruption facilitates multi-billion dollar IUU fishing operations.
  • Transparency initiatives are key foundational mechanisms for reducing the risk of corruption and preventing illegal fishing.
  • In addition to strengthening enforcement, prevent opportunities for corruption in fisheries by improving traceability systems, advocating for global financial and corporate transparency, and ensuring auditable catch documentation.

Three Steps to Follow

infographic of three steps

Step 1: Understand Corruption Get familiar with how corruption impacts conservation and ways to respond

Whether you have decades of experience or are new to the field, you may not know exactly where corruption risks lie, how they might be influencing your conservation outcomes, and what can be done about them. Start by taking the 90-minute eCourse below.


Step 2: Assess Your Situation Identify how corruption affects the objectives of your own programming

Best results will come from layering interventions at multiple risk points. The first step is to think about who has power in your implementing context. You can then start to identify drivers and facilitators of corruption and entry points for—as well as limitations on—change. The resources below will help you to ask the right questions and identify those risk points.


Step 3: Adapt Your Programming Consider approaches that fit your needs

Consider whether some of the programming avenues below would help to address your challenges. Take a moment to read these principles for getting started from recent experience testing anti-corruption approaches in various contexts.

Remember: Evidence suggests that targeting corruption through multiple approaches yields best results.

  • Landscape showing commercial fishing boats
    Is corruption systemic in marine supply chains and you’re unsure where to target interventions?

    Prevent flag hopping and laundering of illicit seafood into supply chains

    Explore the Supply Chains Guide
  • Fish in display for sale
    Is corruption in law enforcement and the criminal justice system impeding progress?

    Strengthen integrity in law enforcement and the judiciary

    Explore the Law Enforcement & Criminal Justice Guide
  • Landscape photo of city skyline at night
    Are higher-level actors like organized criminals and corrupt officials escaping consequences?

    Interrupt illicit financial flows and advocate for beneficial ownership transparency

    Explore the Illicit Financial Flows Guide


Illustration of man looking at his cell phone© Klyaksun / Vecteezy

Case Study: Reducing opportunities for bribery to evade permitting requirements in small-scale fisheries

In Peru, IUU fishing creates challenges for fishers, the government, and buyers and sellers of fish, while also threatening the country’s marine resources. An estimated 60% of Peru’s artisanal fishing vessels are informal or illegal. WWF Peru developed an electronic permitting app to enable small-scale fisheries to more easily obtain relevant permits and reduce instances of bribe paying. In 2021-2022, the app was rolled out to fisheries in three cities who were provided support throughout the life of the pilot. Effectiveness was assessed using participatory methods to collect the experiences of fishers. Risk mitigation measures were taken to support the anonymity of participants in data collection. In 2023, additional work will identify wider corruption risks in Peruvian fisheries, engage national stakeholders to consider appropriate responses, and expand technology-enabled solutions to more industry sector and official processes (TNRC Pilot 2021-2023).

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Image attribution: © naturepl.com / Jen Guyton / WWF; © Brian J. Skerry / National Geographic Stock / WWF; © Georgina Goodwin / Shoot The Earth / WWF-UK; © Hkun Lat / WWF-Aus