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Fisheries Cooperation in Asia and the Pacific

University of Malaysia students give NOAA Fisheries and regional fisheries experts a tour at the Sabah Aquaculture Research Center. Credit: Marylyn Amatus, CTI-Sabah

Fisheries Management training in Dili, Timor Leste.

IUU training workshop participants
are shown how shipping vessels can be tracked via satellite to look for suspicious activity, Honiara, Solomon Islands.

As the world’s largest producer of fish through both wild capture and aquaculture, fish and fishery products make an enormous contribution to the food and job security of people in the Asia-Pacific region. The quantities produced and the sheer diversity of species and products from these waters (marine capture, aquaculture and inland) compel us to work closely with our international colleagues to balance extraction and conservation, with science-based decision making at the core of fisheries management.

Because the United States imports more than 90% of its seafood, most of which comes from Asia, collaboration with our Asia-Pacific partners is critical to ensure sustainable fisheries. Additionally, we work to level the playing field so that American fishers are not disadvantaged by domestic responsibilities.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is also a major challenge. IUU fishing costs countries significant amounts in lost revenue and is resulting in overexploited fisheries. Many countries in the Asia-Pacific region do not have adequate resources or enforcement capacity to deal with these illegal activities. Our work provides training and builds partnerships that expand countries' ability to cooperatively address IUU fishing.

Ongoing Activities/Projects

We have four priority areas of engagement:

For the next 3-4 years, projects will focus on two priority areas:

Guidelines and Performance Indicators for Trawl Fisheries 

In Asia, trawling is one of the most important fishing methods, with an estimate of over 80,000 trawl vessels operating in the region. Trawling guidelines are imperative in order to mitigate conflict between commercial and artisanal fisheries, reduce excess fishing effort and reduce the sub-optimal harvest of juvenile fish. 

NOAA’s role, in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization Exit, will be to advise, initiate, and oversee the implementation of these guidelines. 

EAFM Tools as a Basis for Fisheries Management

Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM) is a fisheries management tool that takes into account the interaction between species and the environment (including humans). EAFM is critical for developing holistic, sustainable fisheries management. Priorities of EAFM projects include: 

  • Adoption and application of EAFM regionally
  • Implementing specific EAFM tools in Vietnam
  • Working with the U.S. Navy and PACOM in the Pacific Partnership Program (a multinational humanitarian aid mission)
  • Working with the Indonesian Blue Swimming Crab program (a joint U.S.-Indonesia, industry-government-society program)

For questions about our international development work in the Asia-Pacific Region, please contact Michel Abbey (