As ocean pollution and overfishing continue to threaten marine life, the global community has been striving to establish measures to prevent and deter illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities. In this regard, the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (PSMA), adopted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2009, is a significant milestone.
The PSMA is a treaty that aims to strengthen the control of port states over foreign-flagged fishing vessels that enter their ports. It obligates port states to deny entry or access to ports to vessels suspected of engaging in IUU fishing activities. Additionally, the treaty requires port states to carry out inspections of such vessels, and seize and dispose of any catch, equipment, or means of transport related to IUU fishing.
The PSMA comes at a critical time when IUU fishing has become a serious economic, environmental, and security concern, affecting the livelihoods of millions of people dependent on the fishing industry. IUU fishing leads to losses of billions of dollars in revenue and subsidies, undermines the sustainability of fish stocks, and poses a threat to the security and stability of coastal communities.
The PSMA has been hailed as one of the most effective tools to combat IUU fishing, as it targets the ports that facilitate the trade of IUU-caught fish. By reducing the number of ports available for IUU fishing vessels to offload their catches, the PSMA makes illegal fishing less profitable and more risky.
The treaty has been gaining momentum since its adoption, with over 70 countries ratifying it to date. However, much still needs to be done to ensure effective implementation. Notably, many countries still lack the capacity to carry out effective port inspections, and some continue to provide direct or indirect support to IUU fishing activities.
In conclusion, the PSMA represents a major step forward in the global effort to combat IUU fishing and protect marine resources. While challenges remain, the treaty provides a framework for cooperation and action, and it is essential that all countries come together to implement its measures effectively.