The PSMA, a cornerstone in the fight against illegal fishing [fr]

In the context of the French Presidency of the European Union and as a follow-up to the One Ocean Summit, France, in partnership with the FAO, the European Union and Indonesia, organized a high-level meeting on the Port State Measures Agreement or PSMA.

2022 is an important year for international mobilization for ocean preservation, with several high-level events aimed at building an ambitious international ocean agenda :

  • the "One Ocean Summit" that took place in Brest from in February of 2022 (read our article here),
  • the 9th World Water Forum in Dakar in March of 2022,
  • the 7th Our Ocean Conference in Palau in April 2022,
  • the United Nations Conference on the Oceans in Lisbon from June 27 to July 1st.

The One Ocean Summit, organized by France during its presidency of the Council of the European Union, underlined in the "Brest commitments" the importance of strengthening the fight against illegal fishing and encouraged new States to join the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA).

The PSMA is a major binding instrument, which was approved by the FAO Conference in 2009 and which entered into force in June 2016. It aims to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. There are now 71 parties to the Agreement (70 Member States and the EU), with Morocco becoming a party last month.

To continue the mobilization, especially in view of the fourth meeting of the Parties to the PSMA that will take place in Bali (Indonesia) in May of 2023, the Permanent Representation of France, in collaboration with FAO, the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations in Rome and the Embassy of Indonesia in Italy, organized on June 21, 2022, a virtual information meeting on the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA).

The purpose of the event was :

  • to take stock of the implementation of the PSMA,
  • to discuss the critical elements which are expected to bolster the effectiveness of the agreement in the coming years, namely information exchange and capacity development,
  • to consider approaches that could be integrated into a future implementation strategy to be adopted at the Meeting of the Parties in Bali.

9 speakers and nearly 80 audience members attended the event. A first high-level section discussed among other things the measures taken at the country level and the PSMA. A second section with participants working on the ground addressed the practical challenges of implementing the agreement, in different national and regional contexts.

Objectives of the PSMA

The PSMA is the only fisheries management agreement that is legally binding and yet universal in scope. Its objective is to combat IUU fishing by preventing IUU fishing vessels from using the ports of States other than their flag States and landing their catches there. By introducing provisions eliminating the benefits of IUU fishing, it produces both an economic effect and a deterrent. It is a "powerful and cost-effective enforcement tool", in the words of Mr. Manuel Barange, Director of the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Division.

IUU fishing is one of the greatest threats to aquatic ecosystems, fishers and the communities that depend on them. It undermines national and regional efforts for sustainable fisheries management. Losses caused by IUU fishing are around $23 billion per year according to the FAO.

The PSMA is also central to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Article 14.4 of SDG 14 (Aquatic Life) calls for the elimination of IUU fishing and Article 14.6 for the elimination of subsidies that contribute to IUU fishing.

In the concluding words of Olivier Poivre d’Arvor, Ambassador in charge of Poles and Maritime Issues and special envoy of the President of the French Republic for the One Ocean Summit : "the fight against IUU fishing is a responsibility that we share in the face of a challenge that is common to all of us and a global issue".

Indonesia will chair and host the next meeting of PSMA Members in May 2023 in Bali

Dernière modification : 26/07/2022

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