The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization said in a statement issued on May 17 that 29 countries and the European Union have formally committed themselves to the Port State Measures Agreement, creating a new era in the effort to combat illegal fishing.
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. They must provide local authorities with information regarding the fish they have on board, and allow inspection of their log book, licenses, fishing gear and actual cargo, among other things.
The agreement calls on these 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 for parties to share information regionally and globally, regarding any vessels discovered to be involved in IUU fishing.
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization noted that IUU fishing is responsible for annual catches of up to 26 million tons of seafood with a value of up to $23 billion in US dollars. IUU fishing also undermines efforts to ensure sustainable fisheries and responsible fish stock management worldwide, the agency said.
The agreement applies to any use of a port, so even vessels that are just refueling will have to comply with inspection requirements.
Parties to the agreement include Australia, Barbados, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, European Union-Member Organization, 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.