Insuring against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing

IUU fishing undercuts effective fisheries management practices, harms habitats and ecosystems, and is closely associated with labour and human rights abuses. It is estimated that one in five fish are illegally caught, costing the global economy over USD$20 billion annually.

To end IUU fishing, a multi-sector approach is needed that includes technology applications, policy action from governments, and the engagement of private sector actors. Removing access to insurance is one important lever, with a clear business case for insurers as vessels engaged in IUU fishing are more likely to participate in risky behaviour that could result in costly claims and potential liability.

ORRAA members AXA and Ocean Unite, alongside project partners Oceana, Global Fishing Watch and Trygg Mat Tracking, are working to help insurers better evaluate vessels they are looking to insure. The project focuses on three pathways: 1) assessing the feasibility of requiring International Maritime Organisation (IMO) numbers – unique and permanent vessel identifiers- for all vessels as a condition of insurance; 2) building a rapid risk assessment tool that can help insurers evaluate the past behaviours and characteristics of vessels they are looking to insure to estimate the likely risk of that vessel engaging in IUU fishing; and 3) developing insurance policy wording for the sector to stop coverage and prevent claims payments if a vessel is found to have been involved in or supporting IUU fishing.

The project builds on the 2017 Oceana and UNEP FI Principles for Sustainable Insurance and Insurance Industry Statement Against IUU Fishing, and the 2018, Oceana IUU Fishing Risk Assessment Checklist – engaging insurance companies in implementing the commitments made in 2017 to not knowingly insure vessels or fleets that have been involved in IUU fishing.