Countries Urged to Get on Board with Fight Against Rogue Fishing

22 September 2016, at 1:00am

GLOBAL - An international conference on how to achieve healthy and sustainable oceans has welcomed the growing support for a ground-breaking international accord on illegal fishing, brokered by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (PSMA), is the result of years of intense negotiations and finally came into force June 2016.

US President Barack Obama, addressing the Our Ocean conference in Washington underscored the need to "act boldly" to address the growing threat posed by a number of current events.

These include dangerous changes in our climate, caused mainly by human activity; dead zones in our ocean, caused mainly by pollution that we create here on land; unsustainable fishing practices; and unprotected marine areas, in which rare species and entire ecosystems are at risk.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) costs the world tens of billions of dollars a year and such activities are often linked to "gross human rights violations".

PSMA 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 fish they have on board, allowing inspection of their log book, licences, fishing gear and actual cargo.

Importantly, the treaty calls to countries to deny entry or inspect vessels that have been involved in IUU fishing, and to take necessary action. The PSMA included the obligation for parties to share information regionally and globally.

The PSMA applies to any use of port, so even vessels that are just refuelling will have to comply with inspection requirements.

At the Our Ocean conference FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva lauded the countries that have signed the treaty and invited others to follow suit and to come "on board".

To carry out this work FAO has so far secured $5 million, including funding from its own resources.

FAO is also collaborating with Google to develop new platforms and research methodologies to support countries in improving their monitoring, control and surveillance of fishing activities.