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Port State Measures Agreement enters into force as international treaty

IUU fishing is estimated at a value of up to 23 billion USD, and it endangers the biodiversity and food security of many developing countries
FAO works with countries to help enhance their capacity to conduct efficient monitoring, control, surveillance and enforcement for port inspections

Today, it was announced that the Port State Measures Agreement has reached – and even surpassed – the twenty-five parties needed for the Agreement to enter into force as a binding, international treaty designed to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Six nations entered as the twenty-fifth  to thirtieth parties to the Agreement, allowing the Agreement to enter into force as an international treaty on 5 June 2016.  See the press release issued today: Ground-breaking illegal fishing accord soon to enter into force:  FAO Port State Measures Agreement set to become binding law.

The full list of States and regional economic integration organizations are currently Parties to the Agreement: Australia, Barbados, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, the European Union (on behalf of its 28 Member States), 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, United States of America, Uruguay and Vanuatu.

Speaking about the Port State Measures Agreement’s entry into force as a binding international treaty, FAO’s Director-General, Jose Graziano Da Silva announced, “This is the dawn of a new era in the effort to combat illegal fishing.  By denying unscrupulous fishers safe haven and access to markets, the PSMA will drive the seafood industry toward greater sustainability and have significant ripple effects throughout the entire fisheries supply chain. Let no port state be known and targeted by IUU fishing operators as a shelter for non-compliance.”

The Agreement has been an example of  international collaboration since its inception. In 2005, FAO member countries called on FAO to draft a treaty designed to combat IUU fishing, an activity estimated at a value of up to 23 billion USD annually, and one that endangers the legitimate fishing industry, and national and regional efforts to implement responsible fisheries management.

Furthermore, IUU fishing damages the food security and livelihoods of many fishing communities, particularly in developing countries.
The Port State Measures Agreement emerged from a lengthy consultation process. It was negotiated by FAO’s Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture and adopted at FAO Conference in 2009.

According to Árni M. Mathiesen, Assistant Director-General of FAO’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, “Now we have reached the magic number of 25 for the treaty to enter into force.

Certainly, this is a very big moment, and it will carry us a long way forward in improvement  fishing  and fisheries all over the world. However, we need to help build capacity in several countries.

The agreement has taken into account the need to build capacity, particularly in developing countries. Article 21 will help us to raise the resources to undertake this work.”

To see Árni M. Mathiesen’s full video interview, please view here:

The new treaty requires that parties designate specific ports for use by foreign vessels, making control easier. Those ships must request permission to enter ports ahead of time, and provide local authorities with information, including on the fish they have on board, and allowing inspection of their log book, licenses, fishing gear and actual cargo, among other things.

Importantly, the Agreement calls on countries to deny entry or inspect vessels that have been involved in IUU fishing, and to take necessary action. To support this, the Agreement also includes the obligation to share information regionally and globally, regarding any vessels discovered to be involved in IUU fishing. The Port State Measures Agreement applies to any use of a port, so even vessels that are just refuelling will have to comply with inspection requirements.

Speaking in an interview about the Port State Measures Agreement, FAO Fishery Liaison Officer Matthew Camilleri addresses the need for capacity building. “We are committed to broadening our capacity development programme in order to assist countries with enhancing their fisheries policies and legislative frameworks as well as strengthening their institutional capacity and operational procedures, so that they will be in a better position to combat and eliminate IUU fishing.”

To see Matthew Camilleri’s full interview, please view here:

Although today is a moment to celebrate having reached 25 parties (and beyond), it is important to look ahead and to keep momentum going once the Port State Measures Agreement enters into force on 5 June 2016.

Through international collaboration and capacity building in developing countries, we can deliver a powerful blow to IUU fishing.

To download the Port State Measures brochure, click here for English, French, Spanish, and Arabic.

A fishing vessel in port at Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
The ability to turn away vessels taking part in IUU fishing will greatly reduce opportunities for selling the illegal catch, decreasing IUU fishing worldwide. This development should also benefit fishing communities in developing countries
The Port State Measures Agreement helps in efforts to ensure the traceability of the fish on your plate – by ensuring that it was not caught through IUU fishing


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