The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Convention on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fisheries is an international agreement that aims to prevent IUU fishing through the adoption and implementation of effective port State measures to ensure the long-term conservation and sustainable use of living marine resources. The Agreement is intended to be fully and effectively applied by countries in their capacity as port States to foreign-flagged ships entering or staying in a country`s ports. When the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA) entered into force in 2016, the United Nations celebrated it as the beginning of a new era in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. More than 25 governments had ratified or signed the treaty, exceeding the threshold required for its entry into force. This number more than doubled in the following years. But can a single treaty create a sufficiently robust mechanism to combat widespread disregard for fisheries laws and policies? We believe the answer is yes, but the agreement is only as good as the parties who respect and implement it. Port State measures (PSM) are requirements or interventions set by port States that a foreign fishing vessel must comply with or be subject to as a condition of using port State ports. National PSM would normally include requirements for prior notification of entry to port, use of designated ports, restrictions on port entry and fish landing/transhipment, restrictions on supplies and services, documentation requirements and port inspections, as well as related measures such as the registration of IUU vessels, trade-related measures and sanctions. A cooperative approach by all stakeholders can help ports prevent IUU fishermen from landing their catches and prevent illegally caught seafood from entering the supply chain, ensuring that ports are no longer a weak point in the global fight against IUU fishing. Through state and federal partnerships, targeted pulse operations, and a new staffing plan, NOAA Fisheries` Office of Enforcement is able to meet the agreement`s global requirements.
The Office currently seeks the support of 28 state law enforcement agencies. These joint enforcement agreements serve as a force multiplier for the Office and strengthen the ability to respond effectively to many enforcement tasks. In addition, the Oceania National Council Committee on IUU Fishing and Seafood Fraud continues to improve information sharing and collaboration with federal partners and promotes our support network. To shift their catch from the vessel to the plateau, fishermen involved in IUU operations have traditionally relied on a number of tactics and gaps in national legislation and management practices. They have operated ports known for their lax enforcement or limited ability to conduct proper inspections. The PSMA changes that. Parties to the Agreement may deny entry to their ports or access to port services, including the landing and transhipment of fish, to foreign-flagged vessels known to engage in IUU fishing. Upon entry into port, such ships shall be subject to immediate inspection and these results shall be communicated to other States and organizations concerned in order to facilitate cooperation on enforcement measures. By ratifying or acceding to the agreement, countries are sending a clear message that their ports are no longer open to illegal fishing. Joining this agreement and implementing effective port State measures comes at a cost, but there are also many direct and indirect benefits.
Benefits include: The FAO Convention on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fisheries (AMSP) was adopted by the United Nations FAO Conference in 2009 and entered into force in June 2016. The PSMA is the first binding international agreement to prevent trade in illegally caught fish. This is an important international development in global efforts to end illegal fishing and strengthen fisheries management and policy. Its main objective is to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing by preventing IUU fishing vessels from using ports and landing their catches. The Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA) is the first binding international agreement specifically targeting IUU fishing. The agreement has no impact on fish caught by foreign vessels, landed outside the United States and then legally imported into the United States. Most regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs) also regulate Port State controls of Member States as part of their management measures. This ensures that these governments have minimum standards in place, whether or not they are parties to the PSMA. As a major market state and importer of seafood, U.S. fishermen, fish buyers and consumers will benefit from widespread and global implementation of the agreement, which effectively closes ports around the world to IUU vessels and prevents illegal fishing from entering international trade. As a global leader in sustainable fishing practices, the United States has a responsibility to ensure that imported fish is caught legally.
Similarly, the United States has a responsibility to protect its domestic fishers from unfair competition and to ensure consumer confidence in the seafood supply by preventing illegal products from entering the market. Six signatory states have not ratified the treaty: Angola, Benin, Brazil, Canada, Samoa and Sierra Leone. States, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations are uniting to assist the parties in filling gaps in their legal, institutional and operational capacity to implement the Agreement. This work includes aligning legislation with the requirements of the PSMA, putting in place mechanisms to prosecute IUU offenders, training staff on port inspection standards and introducing strategies and technologies for information exchange. The GPSA, adopted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 2009, requires Parties to introduce stricter controls on foreign-flagged vessels entering their ports and using them to land or transship fish. Global participation is crucial to the success of the PSMA. If governments sign the agreement and commit to the fight against IUU fishing, the gaps that allow illegal fishermen to get through will be reduced. Continued international momentum in recent years has increased the number of parties to the agreement, making it increasingly difficult for illegal catches to enter national and international markets and reducing the incentive for dishonest fishing operators to continue their IUU activities.
The fishing industry also plays an important role, as seafood buyers may prefer the ports of countries that have ratified the agreement. Lack of training, knowledge or experience has hampered the ability to establish global procedural standards for inspections of fishing vessels. Many countries have experienced historically weak governance of fish and fishery products entering world trade. The agreement sets the global standard for inspections to be carried out and documented, thereby reducing the possibility for IUU fishery products to enter international trade and increasing the international community`s ability to detect fish and IUU fishery products. .