HomeAfrican NewsFour African countries back agreement against illegal and unregulated fishing

Four African countries back agreement against illegal and unregulated fishing


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100 countries have signed the Port State Measures Agreement, the first internationally binding agreement to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing

It is believed that one in five fish caught around the world each year comes from illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Photo: iStock

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

PSMA It 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.

It is believed that one in five fish caught globally each year comes from IUU fishing. IUU fishing is responsible for the loss of 11-26 million tons of fish each year, estimated to have an economic value of $10 billion to $23 billion.

Also read: Millions of people are missing out on their fair share of aquatic foods

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

Science-based management plans were expected to be implemented to restore fish stocks in the shortest possible time, at least to levels that can produce the 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 meet the goal of eliminating IUU fishing by 2020.

Therefore, implementing the PSMA is one of the most cost-effective means of curbing IUU fishing, the FAO noted. Four African countries: Angola, Eritrea, Morocco and Nigeria are the latest countries to back the agreement.

Also read: West African oceans in danger due to lack of surveillance

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

Some 60 percent of port countries are now globally committed to the agreement to combat IUU fishing.

Manuel Barange, director of FAO’s fisheries and aquaculture division, emphasized the need to work together to intensify port controls and the proper exchange of information through the implementation of the PSMA.

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

According to the World Trade OrganizationIUU fishing refers to fishing and fishing-related activities carried out in

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

Wild-caught fish often travel extensively from our oceans through ships, ports and countries until it reaches its destination market. Sustainable fishing must follow international standards to benefit fish stocks, the environment and the livelihoods of communities that depend on fishing.

Some 100 countries that have signed 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 interested countries, FAO and other interested parties, on decisions taken with respect to foreign-flagged fishing vessels. This includes the results of inspections and denials of permits to vessels.


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