WWF: Major international agreement to fight illegal fishing enters into force

Posted on June, 05 2016

WWF: Major international agreement to fight illegal fishing enters into force
Gland, Switzerland  – WWF welcomes the entry into force of the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA) today. As the first binding international treaty specifically aimed at preventing illegally caught fish from entering ports around the world, PSMA is a huge step in the global fight to eliminate illegal fishing. The more countries that join the Agreement and effectively implement it, the better the chances of keeping illegal products out of global markets.

Michele Kuruc, WWF-US vice president of oceans policy said: “Illegally caught seafood endangers marine ecosystems, hurts law-abiding fishermen, and penalizes governments, retailers and consumers who play by the rules. PSMA is a cost effective way of leveraging market forces to close ports everywhere to vessels suspected of illegal activities.” 

“With 60 countries -- including the EU Member States -- on board and more expected in coming months, we are witnessing a global movement to closing all ports to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) actors. By implementing the PSMA, governments are sending criminals a warning that they are not welcome anywhere in their region.”

“While many countries have voiced concern about IUU fishing for years, some have done very little to actually show that they mean business. These nations must now take action to help their people, support honest businesses, and protect the ocean by enforcing the PSMA and ending illegal fishing.”

By requiring each party to publically designate those ports where foreign flag fishing vessels may enter, the PSMA increases the efficiency for vessel inspection, setting minimum standards that all parties will use. This includes denial of access to ports, standards for port inspections, prohibited landings, detention and sanctions, along with cooperation and shared information. The Agreement also standardizes inspection and reporting forms for vessels requesting permission to enter ports. The PSMA will drive streamlined data delivery, providing critical information to all businesses along the supply chain, simplifying port landings, and make it more difficult for illegal fish to be laundered into the supply chain.

The FAO reports that IUU fishing continues to have a devastating impact and the financial value of IUU fishing is estimated at 10-23 billion USD per year1.Therefore, combating IUU fishing is key to improve food security worldwide.

“Global harmonization of these provisions is advantageous for all parties in the fish trade. With data collection processes changing, fishers, vessel owners, permit holders, processors and others along the supply chain need to prepare by understanding what info will be required. When all actors work together and provide consolidated data to the vessel making the port call, moving legal seafood through the supply chain will be simple and efficient. With 20 to 30 percent of annual harvests estimated to come from illegal fishing, lost revenues to honest fishers, responsible suppliers and governments can’t be restored soon enough,” said Kuruc.

WWF is encouraging more governments to sign up to the Agreement to present a united front against illegal fishing.

1 FAO 2014. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2014
For more detailed information:
  • Conner, Christopher, WWF US, Christopher.Conner@wwfus.org
  • David Schorr,  WWF-Smart Fishing Initiative, David.Schorr@wwfus.org
  • Eszter Hidas, WWF EPO, ehidas@wwf.panda.org
Vessels in a port in Mozambique
© Per Erik Berg