Global Fishing Index



Yellowtail snapper. Photo Credit: Stephen Frink via Getty Images.

The Global Fishing Index

The Global Fishing Index is an independent assessment of global progress toward the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 14.4: to effectively regulate harvesting, end overfishing and restore fish stocks to sustainable levels.

The Index assesses progress using three core metrics, reporting global and national-level performance for 142 coastal countries:

  1. Stock sustainability: the state of assessed fish stocks relative to biologically sustainable levels of abundance;
  2. Data availability: the extent of knowledge of fish stocks and data transparency, based on the proportion of catch that is assessed; and
  3. Governance capacity: a country’s capacity to ensure fisheries operate sustainably and responsibly.

This data sits alongside a series of case studies that explore critical fisheries challenges and innovative solutions – including data empowerment in small-scale fisheries, the use of satellites to track illegal fishing, and up-skilling fishers to achieve social, financial and environmental (‘triple impact’) sustainability.

Together, this information helps identify areas of strength — and importantly, weaknesses — that can be used to prioritise and inform action to improve fisheries at a local, regional and global scale.

The Index is a call to action to governments and fishing businesses to commit to and invest in improving fishing operations within their control.

The Global Fishing Index is an ongoing study, with global results updated every three years. This will allow us to track country-level action and overall progress toward SDG target 14.4.

The first edition of the Global Fishing Index was published in November 2021.


Trawler fleet docked at pier – Middelburg, Netherlands. Photo Credit: Cavan Images via Getty Images.

Insights to ensure all fisheries operate sustainably and responsibly

These next ten years mark a critical juncture for reaching the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and the future they represent. Specifically, SDG target 14.4 asks countries to effectively regulate harvesting, end overfishing, and restore fish stocks to sustainable levels by 2030.

The GFI is designed to be used as a tool for governments, the fishing and seafood businesses, investors, and civil society organisations to take action to eliminate perverse incentives that drive overfishing and establish policy to ensure long-term sustainability.

The Team


Dr Tony Worby

CEO, Flourishing Oceans initiative


Dr Kendra Thomas Travaille

Project lead


Dr Asha McNeill

Lead researcher – Governance


Dr Julia Santana Garcon

Lead researcher – Progress score


Jem Turner

Senior Research Analyst


Alex McLennan

Research and data analyst


Abiyoso Purnomosakti

Research analyst


Megan Cundy

Research analyst


Vyvyan Summers

Research analyst


Keith Twyford

Global policy lead, Sustainable Fisheries


Aleta Johnston

Senior communications manager, Flourishing Oceans initiative


Fiona David

Research chair, Minderoo Foundation


We worked with the Sea Around Us initiative and Quantitative Aquatics, Inc (Q-quatics) to produce country-level stock sustainability and data availability metrics. The Sea Around Us is a research initiative at The University of British Colombia and The University of Western Australia. Their work focuses on assessing the impacts of fisheries on marine ecosystems and developing solutions for stakeholders. Q-quatics is a non-profit organisation that supports the assembly and dissemination of key data on living aquatic resources.

Sea Around Us supported the analysis of the state of fish stocks and data availability by collating publicly available data and generating new estimates of the abundance of fish stocks.

We would also like to thank our research partners and Expert Advisory Panel members, as well as Dr Chris Wilcox from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation for advice regarding the fisheries governance analysis; Dr Roman Marchant, Dr Vincent Chin and Prof Sally Cripps from the Australian Research Council Centre in Data Analytics for Resources and the Environment (DARE) for their review and valuable insights regarding the stock assessment approach; Dr David Kroodsma and Dr Nathan Miller at Global Fishing Watch for their input and advice on the use of vessel monitoring data; and the team from the Competence Centre on Composite Indicators and Scoreboards for their advice on the methods and analyses for our governance assessment.