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Director-General  José Graziano da Silva
A statement by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva
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08 June 2017

Ocean Conference: Implementation of the Port State Measures Agreement to Prevent, Deter, and Eliminate IUU Fishing

The ocean lies at the heart of the 2030 Agenda. 

The ocean covers more than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface and works in many ways to support human well-being and livelihoods. It is also critical to global food security. Now and even more in the future.  

Above all, the ocean must be managed so that it may continue to support, in a sustainable way, the needs of a growing world population.

Marine and coastal ecosystems are key to the livelihoods and nutritional needs of communities everywhere. This is especially true in developing countries, and in particular for Small Island Developing States (the SIDS).  

More than 3 billion people rely on fish for animal protein, and some 300 million people base their livelihoods on marine fisheries—90 percent of these people rely on small-scale, artisanal fisheries, many of them who are very poor.

Global average fish consumption has doubled in the past half century to 20 kilograms per person per year, more than half of which comes from the sea. Fish consumption in SIDS is 3 to 4 times this global average.

Approximately 31 percent of all assessed marine fish stocks of commercial importance are fished at unsustainable levels. That’s three times more than it was 40 years ago.

Unsustainability poses many risks and a heavy price. Today many fisheries around the world are characterized by excessive fishing effort, low productivity and inadequate profitability. 

It has been estimated that rebuilding overfished stocks could over time increase annual fishery production by 20 percent to 16.5 million tons, valued at an additional 32 billion U.S. dollars each year, and that is a lot of money.

This would not only increase the well-being of coastal communities and enhance nutrition around the globe, it would also lead to healthier ecosystems, more resilient to climate change and ocean acidification.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU fishing) currently accounts for up to 26 million tonnes of fish a year, one-sixth of all the fish caught at sea. This illicit activity undermines national, regional and international efforts to sustainably manage the exploitation of species ranging from anchovies to swordfish.

Those numbers show that IUU fishing is one of the greatest obstacles to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 14.

This is the reason why SDG14 makes explicit mention of the importance of the fight against IUU fishing.

Target 14.4, which sets that goal, calls for implementing science-based management plans in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yields.

FAO Members have long recognized the need to address IUU fishing.

In 2001, the International Plan of Action to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing (IPOA-IUU) was adopted, offering a toolbox that has served as a guide for states and stakeholders ever since.  

Importantly, this International Plan of Action led to the 2009 FAO Agreement on Port State Measures to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing.

The PSMA agreement is a landmark as it endows port states – where vessels land – with powers previously held only by the states whose flag a vessel flies.

This is a cost-effective innovation compared to trying to police the open seas for rogue actors.

The PSMA entered into force last year, and I had the honor to celebrate this achievement together with the State Secretary of Norway and the President of Palau last week in Oslo.

I would like to congratulate again those who have become Party to the Agreement.

We have reached the mark of 50 Parties to the Agreement, counting the European Union as one. Such support testifies to the significance and relevance of our collective efforts in this regard.

Today, more than one-seventh of all seafood is now certified by global sustainability initiatives, a 40-fold increase since 2003, underscoring just how powerful popular support is for action on this front. 

FAO has helped deliver a powerful set of instruments to use alongside the PSMA in the fight against IUU fishing.

I will mention two of them:

The FAO Voluntary Guidelines on Catch Documentation Schemes is one of them. The other one is the Global Record of Fishing Vessels, which introduces a critical and transparent tool to strengthen fisheries management.

FAO has already run an 11-country pilot project– and we are working hard to make it open to the public as soon as possible.

Working together and with these tools, we can achieve our goal of eliminating IUU fishing.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I wish to express my deepest gratitude to the Government of the Kingdom of Norway for hosting the First Meeting of the Parties.

The outcomes of these meetings define the path forward for implementing the PSMA, and our panelists will share those details and the next steps with you soon.

Indeed, the Agreement itself requires Parties, FAO and other international organizations to assist the needs of developing countries, and provides for the establishment of funding mechanisms to support the necessary capacity development.

We have developed a global capacity-development programme aiming to strengthen the policy, legal, institutional and operational frameworks needed to fulfil the requirements of the PSMA.

In combination with our other work, this global programme is expected to ultimately contribute to achieving a number of goals central to fisheries and aquaculture.

FAO has already committed more than 1.5 million US dollars for PSMA-related capacity development activities from our regular budget. You might see this as seed money as we are expecting donors from voluntary contributions to increase this amount.  

In conclusion, I would like to commend the un-wavering efforts and commitments of FAO Members, other United Nations agencies, regional fishery bodies, our partner NGOs, and other international organizations, whose collective efforts have allowed us to get this far.

I am confident that through your continued determination to effectively implement the PSMA, combined with other instruments and tools, we shall move ahead together, and to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing.

Thank you for your attention.