The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has announced that a groundbreaking international accord aimed at stamping out illegal fishing went into effect on 05 June and is now legally binding for the 29 countries and a regional organisation that have adhered to it.
A binding treaty
The Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (PSMA), adopted as an FAO Agreement in 2009 after a years-long diplomatic effort, is the first ever binding international treaty that focuses specifically on illicit fishing.
The threshold to activation of the treaty – which called for at least 25 countries to adhere to it – was surpassed last month, triggering a 30-day countdown to its entry-into-force on 05 June.
‘We hail those countries that have already signed on to the agreement and who will begin implementing it… We invite governments who have yet to do so, to join the collective push to stamp out illegal fishing and safeguard the future of our ocean resources,’
JOSE GRAZIANO DA SILVA
Currently, the parties to the PSMA are: Australia, Barbados, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, the European Union (as a member organisation), 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, the United States of America, Uruguay and Vanuatu.
According to FAO, parties to the Agreement are obliged to implement a number of measures while managing ports under their control, with the goals of detecting illegal fishing, stopping ill-caught fish from being offloaded and sold and ensuring information on unscrupulous vessels is shared globally.
These include requiring foreign fishing vessels wishing to enter ports to request permission in advance and transmitting detailed information on their identities, activities and the fish they have onboard. Landings can only happen at specially designated ports equipped for effective inspections.