A new international accord aimed at stamping out illegal fishing went into effect in early June 2016 and is now legally binding for the 29 countries and a regional organisation that have adhered to it.
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.
Currently, the parties to the PSMA are: Australia, Barbados, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, the European Union (as a member organisation), Gabon, Guinea, Guyana, Iceland, Mauritius, Mozambique, Myanmar, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Palau, Republic of Korea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, Tonga, the United States of America, Uruguay, and Vanuatu.
Fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities
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 that information on unscrupulous vessels is shared globally.
Operating without proper authorisation, catching protected species, using outlawed types of gear or disregarding catch quotas are among the most common illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities.
Such practices undermine efforts to responsibly manage marine fisheries, damaging their productivity and in some cases precipitating their collapse.While there are options for combating IUU fishing at sea, they are often expensive and -especially for developing countries - can be difficult to implement, given the large ocean spaces that need to be monitored and the costs of the required technology. Accordingly, port state measures are one of the most efficient - and cost effective - ways to fight IUU fishing.
The now-active Port State Measures agreement provides the international community with a valuable tool for achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, which includes a stand-alone goal on the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and a specific sub-target on IUU fishing.
More Information: FAO
Further Reading: Sustainable fisheries and aquaculture - Rural 21