Published on: November 15, 2022

Extra-regional fishing fleets

Extra-regional fishing fleets

Why in news?  

Chinese fishing vessels have been monitored in the Indian Ocean by Indian Navy, even as illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing continues to rise beyond India’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).


  • IUU fishing depletes fish stocks, destroys marine habitats and affects coastal communities, especially in developing countries.
  • The presence of extra-regional distant water fishing fleets has been monitored by the Information Management and Analysis Center (IMAC).

The International Agreements

  • Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), coastal nations are responsible for addressing IUU fishing issues within their respective EEZs.
  • There are regional fisheries management organizations such as the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, the Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement that operate under the mandate of UNCLOS as regulatory bodies to monitor IUU fishing on the high seas.

Indo-Pacific Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA).

  • Parent organization : The Quad, comprising India, Australia, Japan and the United States,
  • Aims : Provide a more accurate maritime picture of “near-real-time” activities in the region. It is expected to catalyze joint efforts by India and other Quad partners to address IUU in the Indo-Pacific region

Main regulations globally on IUU fishing:

  • The Cape Town Agreement and the Agreement on Port State Measures.
  • India has not signed any of the agreements.

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)

  • It is an international agreement that establishes a legal framework for all marine and maritime activities.
  • Parties : 167 countries and the European Union
  • It replaced the four treaties of the 1958 Convention on the High Seas.
  • The United Nations Secretariat has no direct operational role in the implementation of the Convention.
  • International Whaling Commission and the International Seabed Authority (ISA), which was established by the Convention itself.

Exclusive economic zones (EEZs)

  • These extend 200 nmi from the baseline.
  • Within this area, the coastal nation has sole exploitation rights over all natural resources.
  • In casual use, the term may include the territorial sea and even the continental shelf.
  • The EEZs were introduced to halt the increasingly heated clashes over fishing rights, although oil was also becoming important.
  • Foreign nations have the freedom of navigation and overflight, subject to the regulation of the coastal states.
  • Foreign states may also lay submarine pipes and cables.