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Using data from 72 countries, this study focuses on factors that affect illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing vessels’ choice of country to offload their catch, with a specific emphasis on the differences between developed and developing economies. The concept of choice-structuring properties is applied to analyze whether the following factors influence the selection of a country: concealability of vessels and illegally caught fish; convenience of the ports; strength of fisheries monitoring, control, and surveillance measures; effectiveness of country governance; and commitment to wildlife protection regulations. Results indicate that, rather than a country’s level of development, situational factors play a key role in what country IUU fishing vessels choose. IUU fishing vessels are more likely to offload illegal catch in countries with better port infrastructure and where concealability is easy to achieve because of high vessel traffic and large amounts of fish imports/exports; and they are less likely to offload their catch in countries with strong governance.


This article was originally published in Crime Science, available at DOI 10.1186/s40163-015-0045-2

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (,



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