Transparency matters: interview with Victor Borges, Minister of Fisheries of Mozambique
WWF has welcomed the recent ratification of the FAO Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA) by the Government of Mozambique, which is a huge step in the global fight to eliminate illegal fishing. On this special occasion, WWF interviewed Victor Borges, Minister of Fisheries of Mozambique.
1. What is your view about Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing and its impact in your country?
Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing, commonly called IUU fishing, is estimated conservatively at US$38 million per year in Mozambique’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Not only is this a direct loss to the legal fishery, and licensing revenues to the government, but it is also stealing the food security from our fishers, stealing the employment opportunities for our coastal people who are some of the poorest in Africa. IUU fishing is the scourge of the global, regional and national fishing industry and we must take all steps to stop it in its tracks.
Regionally, IUU fishing has been estimated at approximately US$1 billion loss to the legal fisheries in Sub-Saharan Africa – an area where the least developed countries of the world are at the mercy of these pirate fishermen, and many of them come from developed countries that have advanced mechanisms to protect and continue this illegal trade in fish.
2. What lessons can be learnt about Mozambique’s ratification process of the Port State Measures agreement?
First, it is important to note that Mozambique is member of a the Regional Fisheries Management Organization of the Indian Ocean, the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), where members states are bound by the Resolution 10/11 on Port State Measure, the content of which is the same as the FAO Port State Measures Agreement. On our assessment for ratification we realized that being part of PSMA will enable us to benefit from the global scope of this agreement instead of the regional scope of the Resolution. Beside that Mozambique is already a designated Port, and is implementing a lot of Port State Measures and cannot be stringent because it is not part of PSMA. The Ministers engagement is crucial to introduce the agreement under proper internal channels in view to accede or ratify. In some countries the Parliament is the competent organ to ratify. In our case, as PSMA is a technical agreement, the cabinet is the competent organ to do it. So it is important to study and explore national legal regime for ratification.
3. How Port State Measures Agreement, when ratified by 25 countries can help in combatting IUU?
In terms of spacial Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) implementation, it is concluded that air and sea MCS implementation is expensive and developing countries cannot afford this. Land MCS implementation, in particular, in Ports is a cost- effective way to combat IUU as the vessel, master, documents and catch will be in Port and available for fisheries inspectors work. It is important to note that the authorities will have well in advance the information about the fishing activities and in time will be in the position to scrutinize and contact relevant authority, and can avoid illegal vessels enter into your port by denying port entry or denying landing or any other service. The Port State Measures is a key which will allow closing the doors for IUU fishers.
We have been implementing the mandatory pre-fishing briefing and port inspection scheme since 2011 for all foreign fishing vessels, except where specifically noted in international agreements – and also for our national fishing fleets prior to the commencement of our domestic fishing seasons.
4. What is at stake if countries do not ratify PSMA?
If countries, in particular developing countries, do not bring the Agreement into force, they will continue losing opportunities to get revenues, socio-economic benefits to the country and local employment. If measures are not taken at sea due to the lack of assets and capacity they have to be taken in Port without any cost, otherwise IUU fishing companies in the developed world will get richer at the expense of the poorer developing coastal States. Mozambique, as a developing country, is giving example that we cannot allow this IUU fishing to continue, and we need regional solidarity and efforts to stop it by implementing Port State Measures Agreement