Use flags to signal the legal nationality of a fishing vessel
Overall effectiveness category Awaiting assessment
Number of studies: 0
Background information and definitions
When a fishing vessel is registered, it means that the vessel has the nationality of the country and can fly the flag of that country. This is called the law of the flag. The registered country is often referred to as the flag state and as such has exclusive legal jurisdiction over its vessels in international waters. Vessels can be without nationality, (often called stateless, flagless, or unregistered vessels) but they undermine the law of the flag regime because no state can exercise control over them. Being able to openly identify the registered state or nationality of vessels that, for instance, are suspected to be engaging in illegal fishing activity or otherwise contributing to overexploitation, may help to prevent these activities by allowing the flag state or other states to take enforcement action to deal with the threat.
For a similar intervention relating to the use of the flag on marine vessels, see ‘Enforcement and Compliance to Reduce Illegal Fishing - Eliminate flags of convenience’.