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United States Agency for International Development

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is the lead U.S. government agency providing foreign development assistance, with a mission to end extreme poverty and promote resilient, democratic societies while advancing our security and prosperity. Recognizing that about 2.6 billion people in developing countries rely on fish for nutrition and income, USAID partners with talented organizations around the world to implement evidence based-approaches for strengthening fisheries governance to advance food security, economic development, biodiversity conservation, human rights, and peace and security.

USAID’s work on illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing builds on a long history of collaborating with partners to strengthen fisheries management, conserve marine ecosystems, and enhance human well-being in developing countries. It is part of a broader portfolio of worked aimed at combating wildlife trafficking, and addressing the rapid loss of biodiversity globally.

At USAID, efforts to combat illegal fishing are usually embedded within larger, comprehensive projects designed to address a suite of interrelated development challenges. Our projects often include activities to:

  • Assess the key threats and underlying social and economic drivers that lead to illegal and unsustainable fishing;
  • Evaluate the economic and other losses that result from poorly managed fisheries and the degradation of marine habitats and ecosystem services;
  • Strengthen the environment for fisheries management and enforcement including national level policies, laws and regulations;  
  • Build institutional capacity for improved fisheries management and enforcement;
  • Enhance the institutional capacity and processes in the judicial system;
  • Build constituencies and political will for management and change;
  • Promote resource stewardship through co-management, marine spatial planning, and secure tenure and access to resources;
  • Enhance fisheries value chains by strengthening producer associations, improving catch and processing techniques, and adding to product values;
  • Reduce corruption and promote transparency and accountability;
  • Build capacity for port operations, inspections, and trade;
  • Partner with private companies to promote sustainable and legal sourcing of products; and,
  • Apply science, technologies and innovation to improve management and enforcement.


USAID provides international development assistance as authorized in the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. The Foreign Assistance Act sec. 119(b) authorizes assistance to preserve biological diversity to assist countries in protecting and maintaining wildlife habitats and in developing sound wildlife management and plant conservation programs.