Protecting the South Atlantic from IUU fishing and Human Rights Abuses

Foreign fishing vessels at Montevideo Port. Photo by Milko Schvartzman

The Southwest Atlantic has one of the world’s richest marine environments. Dozens of species depend on its health to survive, from marine mammals, such as dolphins, elephant seals and sperm whales, to sea birds such as penguins and albatrosses, along with sharks and many other species of fish. Nevertheless, it is also one of the main global hotspots for Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing—which is closely linked to overfishing and human rights abuses.

Even though Uruguay is the second smallest country in South America, the Port of Montevideo supports a significant amount of the overfishing and IUU fishing in the South Atlantic. Reefers and fishing vessels dock regularly at the Port of Montevideo, and some of these vessels have been previously denounced or prosecuted by other countries because of IUU fishing, human rights abuses, and other illegalities. According to Global Fishing Watch, Montevideo is the second most visited port by reefers after transshipment—a practice used to hide IUU catch and human trafficking.

Oceans 5 is supporting the Organización para la Conservación de Cetáceos and the Gaia Foundation, to facilitate dialogue on IUU fishing solutions, foster better port controls in Uruguay, promote sustainable fishing, and raise awareness, especially among Uruguayan youth, about ocean conservation.