25 November 2009

A new FAO treaty to crack down on illegal fishing

Rome, Nov 23 2009 - A new FAO treaty to fight illegal fishing - finalised by 91 countries - is now open for signature by member states. The agreement will legally enter into force after 25 countries have ratified it.

Officially known as the Agreement of Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing, the treaty specifies minimum standards for inspection.

Under the terms of the text, foreign vessels will have to request permission in advance to dock at specially designated ports and will have to provide information on their catch. Signatories will also commit to regularly inspect fishing vessels in their ports according to a set of international standards. Port States will be obliged to prohibit entry to illegal fishing vessels.

So far the situation is not good: a research by the Pew Environment Group shows that while some vessels known to engage in IUU fishing are penalised by port authorities, many are entirely unaffected or simply manage to escape penalties by moving out of the convention area where they were listed.

Environmental groups estimate that one-fifth of all fish landed are caught illegally.

Eleonora de Sabata

photo: FAO/G.Bizzarri

For more information:
Pew Environment Group: Port State Performance
FAO press release: New treaty will leave ‘fish pirates’ without safe haven

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