WORLD | May 12, 2023

Global push to step up action against illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing – FOA

/ Our Today

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Manuel Barange, the director of FAO’s fisheries and aquaculture division.

Parties to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA) have agreed to strengthen efforts to combat illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing by extending vessel inspections, exchanging global information and improving the capacity of developing states.

The parties met for the fourth time at a five-day event hosted by the Indonesian Government from Monday (May 8) to Friday (May12) in Bali. Coming out of the meeting the group have endorsed a strategy to increase adherence to the PSMA.

The agreement was also reached, to take the Global Information Exchange System (GIES), a digital system developed by FAO at the request of the parties, from its current pilot phase to a fully operational system by the end of this year.

“FAO is working with countries and regional fisheries management organizations to combat IUU fishing, by reviewing national legislation, identifying ways to strengthen their institutional capacity, and helping them enhance their monitoring and surveillance systems, so they can effectively implement the PSMA and other international instruments to promote sustainable fisheries,” said Manuel Barange, the director of FAO’s fisheries and aquaculture division.

Currently, one in three fish stocks are overfished. With the rising demand for aquatic foods, ensuring that all stocks are managed sustainably is crucial.

The PSMA has the highest rate of adherence of all international fisheries instruments. It is the first binding international agreement designed to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing by stopping foreign vessels engaging in it, from using ports, landing their catches, even denying them entry. It is a key instrument to block fish products derived from IUU fishing from entering international markets.

So far, 75 groups including the European Union as one party on behalf of its Member States, have adhered to the PSMA. This represents 59 per cent of port states globally.

Timor-Leste became the latest party to the agreement at the end of last month.  


The GIES plays a critical role in supporting the implementation of the PSMA. It is a global system that shares vital information including inspection reports and actions taken on foreign fishing vessels engaged in IUU fishing.

“We need streamlined information exchange and digitalization for the PSMA to effectively combat IUU fishing,” said Matthew Camilleri, senior fishery officer and head of the Fisheries Global and Regional Processes Team in FAO’s fisheries and aquaculture division.   

During this fourth meeting of the groups, parties to the PSMA pledged further support to the Global Capacity Development Programme, which has to date supported more than 50 developing States in improving their capacity to combat IUU fishing.

The PSMA entered into force in June 2016 and the meeting of the parties is convened biennially to discuss matters related to the implementation of the agreement.


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