FAO IUU Agreement Set to Enter into Force, CMS, World Bank, Others Promote Action on Sustainable Fisheries
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Twenty-nine countries and the European Union (EU) have deposited their instruments of adherence to the Port State Measurement Agreement (PSMA) with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO).

The entry into force of the PSMA, on 5 June, marks the world's first binding international agreement on illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing and is expected to support efforts to ensure responsible fish stock management and sustainable fisheries.

fao_cms_wb16 May 2016: Twenty-nine countries and the European Union (EU) have deposited their instruments of adherence to the Port State Measurement Agreement (PSMA) with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO). The entry into force of the PSMA, on 5 June, marks the world’s first binding international agreement on illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing and is expected to support efforts to ensure responsible fish stock management and sustainable fisheries.

IUU fishing accounts for up to 26 million tonnes of annual catches with a value of US$23 billion, according to FAO. The PSMA aims to tackle IUU fishing by requiring parties to designate specific ports for use by foreign vessels, which must request permission to enter ports and provide local authorities with information on the fish they have on board and allow inspections of their log books, fishing gear, cargo and licenses. Countries can deny entry or inspect vessels that are suspected of involvement in IUU fishing and take action. The Agreement obligates parties to share information on any vessels discovered to be engaging in IUU fishing.

The entry into force of the agreement is “the dawn of a new era in the effort to combat illegal fishing” that will deny “unscrupulous fishers” access to markets, FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva said. He expressed hope that the PSMA will drive greater sustainability in the seafood industry and have positive ripple effects throughout the fisheries supply chain. da Silva called on additional countries to ratify the treaty and ensure that no port state can be targeted by IUU fishing operators.

Some of the world’s most attractive fishing areas are in developing coastal countries and small island developing States (SIDS) that may face challenges in implementing the PSMA, according to FAO. Within this context, FAO has built capacity among these States to apply the port state measures and has launched a global programme to support implementation of the PSMA. Following the Agreement’s entry into force, FAO will organize a series of national, regional and inter-regional initiatives to further build implementation capacity.

The PSMA signatory countries account for over 62% of global fish imports and 49% of fish exports, which were valued at US$133 billion and US$129 billion, respectively, in 2013. The signatories are: Australia, Barbados, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, the EU, Gabon, Guinea Bissau, Guyana, Iceland, Mauritius, Mozambique, Myanmar, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Palau, the Republic of Korea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, Tonga, the US, Uruguay and Vanuatu.

To support collection and sharing of information to detect and tackle IUU fishing, the UN Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) has developed an open, global standard for exchanging fisheries data, which is expected to provide timely data on fish species and quantity caught as well as gear used and locations. The ‘Fisheries Language for Universal Exchange’ (FLUX) automates the collection and dissemination of fishery catch data and allows fishery management organizations to access electronic fisheries data from fishing vessels. This system is also expected to support efforts to promote sustainable fisheries management and improve research on fisheries.

Other recent actions to address sustainable fisheries include the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) workshop on addressing bycatch. The workshop brought together representatives of legally-binding Agreements from the CMS Family to exchange experiences on threats to different species from bycatch and to share mitigation measures. Participants discussed synergies among the CMS Family of instruments, including data collection protocols, exchange of guidelines and best practices, and attendance at regional fisheries management organization (RFMO) meetings.

Also on fisheries cooperation, the World Bank released a report that finds that better management of tuna fisheries in the Pacific Islands could help create 7,500 to 15,000 jobs by 2040 and generate up to US$344 million annually in sustainable revenues through actions such as catch limits and the vessel day scheme (VDS). The report, titled ‘Pacific Possible: Tuna Fisheries,’ recommends five policy strategies for promoting the role of tuna fisheries in the Pacific’s economic growth: increasing regional integration; promoting efficient fishing practices and catch limits; supporting flexible access and harvest rights for fleets; promoting investment in skills and labor; and including coastal communities in fisheries planning. “The key challenge for Pacific Island countries is to sustainably harness a greater share of the benefits from their tuna fisheries without depleting fish stocks,” explained the report’s co-author, John Virdin. The report is the second of seven reports in the Bank’s ‘Pacific Possible’ series, which highlights potentially transformative opportunities for Pacific Island countries.

All of these efforts are expected to contribute to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 (Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development), particularly Targets 14.4 (By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics) and 14.7 (By 2030, increase the economic benefits to Small Island developing States and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism). [FAO Press Release] [UN Press Release] [UNECE Press Release] [CMS Press Release] [World Bank Press Release] [Pacific Possible: Tuna Fisheries] [SDG 14]

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