Treaty to begin tackling IUU fishing

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the UN's Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA) will come into force on June 5, 2016 targeting illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.

According to the FAO, the PSMA is the world's first ever binding international accord specifically targeting IUU fishing to become international law.

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, and provide local authorities with information, including on the fish they have on board, and allowing inspection of their log book, licences, fishing gear and actual cargo, among other things.

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

The FAO stated that each year, IUU fishing is responsible for annual catches of up to 26 million tonnes, with a value of up to US$23 billion.

It also undermines efforts to ensure sustainable fisheries and responsible fish stock management around the world.

"This is the dawn of a new era in the effort to combat illegal fishing. By denying unscrupulous fishers safe haven and access to markets, the PSMA will drive the seafood industry toward greater sustainability and have significant ripple effects throughout the entire fisheries supply chain," said FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva.

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Baird Maritime / Work Boat World