December 6, 2022

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Four African countries back agreement against illegal, unregulated fishing

PHOTO: DTE

By downtoearth.org

100 countries have signed the Agreement on Port State Measures — the first internationally binding agreement in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

Angola, Eritrea, Morocco and Nigeria last week signed the Food and Agricultural Organziation’s (FAO) Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA), taking the number of signatories to this global alignment against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing to 100 countries.

PSMA is the first internationally binding instrument specifically designed to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing by denying port access to foreign vessels that engage in or support such practices. The PSMA entered into force in June 2016.

One in every five fish caught around the world every year is thought to originate from IUU fishing. IUU fishing is responsible for the loss of 11-26 million tons of fish each year, which is estimated to have an economic value of $10 billion-$23 billion.

The world was supposed to effectively regulate and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices by 2020, according to the United Nations-mandated sustainable development goals (SDG).

It was expected to implement science-based management plans to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield.

This indicator is set to be achieved by 2020, unlike most SDG targets with a target year of 2030. But the world has failed to achieve the target of eliminating IUU fishing by 2020.

Nigeria is amongst the 10 worst-performing countries, according to the IUU Fishing Index 2021. The index measures the degree to which states are exposed to and effectively combat IUU fishing.

Some 60 per cent of port countries now are globally committed to the agreement to fight IUU fishing.

Manuel Barange, FAO’s director of fisheries and aquaculture division emphasised the need to work together to step up port controls and adequate information exchange through the implementation of the PSMA.

This will help in “transforming aquatic food systems and maximise their role as drivers of employment, economic growth, social development and environmental sustainability,” he added.

According to the World Trade Organisation, IUU fishing refers to fishing and fishing-related activities conducted in:

  • Contravention of national, regional and international laws
  • Non-reporting, misreporting or under-reporting of information on fishing operations and their catches
  • Fishing by stateless vessels
  • Fishing in areas under the mandate of regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs) by non-party vessels and
  • Fishing activities which are not regulated by states and cannot be easily monitored.

Fish caught in the wild often travels extensively from our oceans through vessels, ports and countries until it reaches its destined market. Sustainable fishing must follow international rules to benefit fish stocks, the environment and the livelihoods of communities that depend on fishing.

Some 100 countries which have endorsed the agreement will be able to exchange information through the PSMA Global Information Exchange System. It is launched by FAO in December 2021.

These countries will be able to exchange information with concerned countries, FAO and other stakeholders — on decisions taken over foreign-flagged fishing vessels. This includes the results of inspections and denials of permissions to vessels.

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