The UN Global Record of Fishing Vessels

The Global Record is a UN FAO project that involves a database of fishing vessels containing cross-checked, up to date vessel data provided by the vessel’s relevant authorities.

The FAO is currently developing the system and implementing it in parts. The FAO has been working with the European Commission in order to find a way to standardise the data in order to merge information from many different jurisdictions.

A unique number makes vessels easier to identify. Photo Credit:

A unique number makes vessels easier to identify. Photo Credit:

The Global Record will use a unique vessel identification number assigned to each vessel. This number does not change irrespective of how many times the vessel is sold or is re-flagged or re-named.

It is likely that the IMO numbering system will be used as a number assignment system, as it has been found to be highly compatible with the purposes of the Global Record in respect of vessels of 100 GT and above.

The IMO number is currently applied on a voluntary basis to vessels over 100 GT, and it is the prerogative of flag States to make this mandatory.

The unique identification number is useful not only as a way to track and identify vessels that may be engaged in illegal fishing operations, but also as a tool for traceability purposes.

Draft text of the latest discussion at the UN Committee on Fisheries in Rome now available via