By THE NATION
IUU fishing is about to become much more difficult once the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA), a ground-breaking international accord championed by the FAO, takes force early next month.
Last week FAO announced that 29 member states and the European Union had formally deposited their instruments of adherence, and the count down to the entry into force of the PSMA was underway. On 5 June 2016 it will become the world’s first legally binding international accord specifically targeting IUU fishing.
Countries from the Asia-Pacific region accounted for nearly one-third of those acceding to the agreement, including major seafood producing countries such as Thailand.
Collectively, the 29 countries and the European Union, which signed as a single party, have formally committed themselves through their instruments of adherence account for more than 62 per cent of fish imports globally and 49 per cent of fish exports, which were worth $133 billion and $139 billion respectively, in 2013.
IUU fishing is responsible for annual catches of up to 26 million tonnes, with a value of up to $23 billion. It also undermines efforts to ensure sustainable fisheries and responsible fish stock management around the world.
“We are very encouraged that so many countries in the Asia-Pacific region have signed up to this agreement, particularly some of the major exporters like Thailand,” said FAO assistant director-general and regional representative, Kundhavi Kadiresan.
“As this is a legally binding agreement, it is one that countries will need to take seriously and therefore the level of commitment needed to ensure implementation will need to be significant.
“At FAO, we stand ready to help guide our member countries in this region to meet those commitments.”
Parties to the agreement from the Asia-Pacific region include Australia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Palau, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga and Vanuatu.
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 details, including the fish they have on board, and allow an inspection of their log book, licences, fishing gear and actual cargo, among other things.
Importantly, the agreement calls on states 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, about vessels involved in IUU fishing.