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A fishing vessel suspected of being involved in illegal fishing activities. (Photo: neafc.org)

Innovative international agreement against illegal fishing in force in June

Click on the flag for more information about Italy ITALY
Tuesday, May 17, 2016, 02:30 (GMT + 9)

Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing will be much more difficult from now on thanks to the imminent entry into force of the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA), states the Organization the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

FAO announced that once the necessary threshold has been reached, with 30 member countries that have formally deposited their adhesion instruments, the countdown has begun for the entry into force of this innovative international treaty. The first international treaty in the world aimed specifically at combating IUU fishing will become an international law, which is binding, on June 5.

Together, the 29 countries and the European Union -- which has signed as individual part – who have formally committed through their adhesion instruments to the agreement account for more than 62 per cent of fish imports worldwide, and 49 per cent of exports, totalling more than USD 133,000 million and USD 139,000 million, respectively, in 2013.

FAO estimates that each year, IUU fishing adds catches amounting to 26 million tonnes, with a value reaching USD 23,000 million. In turn, it undermines the efforts to ensure sustainable fisheries and responsible management of fish stocks worldwide.

In the UN agency viewpoint, which has been the promoter of this treaty, its entry into force marks the beginning of a new era in the fight against illegal fishing.

"By not granting unscrupulous fishermen a safe harbour and market access, the PSMA will lead the entire fishing industry towards greater sustainability and will have a significant ripple effect throughout the entire distribution chain," ensured FAO general director José Graziano da Silva.

"We should not let illegal fishing operators count or direct to any port State not meeting the standards," he added and urged more countries to ratify the agreement.

"The measures of the port State" -- the basis of what will soon be an active treaty -- refer to the measures taken to detect IUU fishing when ships come to port.

The new treaty requires the parties to designate specific ports for foreign vessels, which will facilitate controls. These boats must request permission in advance to enter the ports, and provide information to local authorities, including that related to the fish on board, and allow the inspection of its logbook, licenses, fishing gear and real load, among others.

It is important to highlight that the agreement calls on countries to reject the entry or inspect vessels that have been involved in IUU fishing, and to take the necessary measures.

For increased support, it also includes the obligation for parties to share information at regional and global level regarding any ship that is discovered to be involved in illegal fishing.

The PSMA applies to any use of a port, so that even the boats that are only refuelling will have to comply with inspection requirements.

The following States and regional economic integration organizations are part of the agreement: Australia, Barbados, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, European Union -- Organisation Member--, Gabon, Guinea Bissau, 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, United States of America, Uruguay and Vanuatu.

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