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The world’s first-ever international agreement specifically targeting illegal fishing is set to enter into force in June 2016

Derek Keats flickrThe countries that are parties to the PSMA account for more than 62 per cent of worldwide fish imports and 49 per cent of fish exports. (Image Source: Derek Keats/Flickr)

Championed by the FAO, the port state measures agreement (PSMA) has now met the required threshold with 30 member countries having formally deposited their instruments of adherence. The accord is set to come into force as an international fishing law on 5 June 2016.

A statement from the FAO noted that each year (illegal, unregulated and unreported) IUU fishing accounts for annual catches of up to 26mn tonnes, with a value of up to US$23bn. According to the FAO, IUU fishing challenges efforts to ensure sustainable fisheries and responsible fish stock management around the world.

The new treaty requires that parties designate specific ports for use by foreign vessels. Ships will have to acquire permission to enter ports ahead of time and provide local authorities with information on the fish they have on board, and have their log book, licences, fishing gear and cargo inspected.

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, under the agreement, the parties are obligated to share information about vessels involved in IUU fishing regionally and globally. The PSMA applies to any use of a port, so even vessels that are just refuelling will have to comply with inspection requirements.

African ountries that are parties to the PSMA areGabon, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan and Somalia. Other countries under the agreement include countries in South America -Chile,Guyana, Dominica, Uruguay and in Central America - Costa Rica. The United States of America and the Carribbean - Cuba, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Barbados, Seychelles also fall under the PSMA. Those in the Indian Ocean and Asia -Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Thailand, Myanmar, Republic of Korea, New Zealand are also included in the PSMA and in the north, Iceland and Norway as well as the European Union. Oman in the Gulf and polynesian countries - Palau,">Vanuatu and Tonga are also under the accord.