Global accord on illegal fishing comes into effect after long wait

A groundbreaking international accord aimed at stamping out illegal fishing is now legally binding for the 29 countries and a regional organisation that have adhered to it, the U.N food agency said.

The Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (PSMA) – adopted as an FAO Agreement in 2009 after a years-long diplomatic effort – is the first ever binding international treaty that focuses specifically on illicit fishing and came into effect on June 5.

Parties to the Agreement are obliged to implement a number of measures while managing ports under their control, with the goals of detecting illegal fishing, stopping ill-caught fish from being offloaded and sold, and ensuring information on unscrupulous vessels is shared globally.

These include requiring foreign fishing vessels wishing to enter ports to request permission in advance, transmitting detailed information on their identities, activities, and the fish they have onboard. Landings can only happen at specially designated ports equipped for effective inspections, the FAO said in a statement.

Ships suspected of being involved in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing can be denied entry into port outright – or permitted to enter for inspection purposes only and refused permission to offload fish, refuel, or resupply.

Vessels that are allowed into ports may be subject to inspections conducted according to a common set of standards. They will be required to prove that they are licensed to fish by the country whose flag they fly, and that they have the necessary permissions from the countries in whose waters they operate. If not, or if inspections turn up evidence of IUU fishing activity, vessels will be denied any further use of ports and reported as violators.

Once a ship is denied access or inspections reveal problems, parties must communicate that information to the country under whose flag the vessel is registered and inform other treaty participants as well as portmasters in neighboring countries. (Full text of the treaty.)

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.