Port State Measures

Can one international treaty help reverse years of rampant and widespread disregard for fisheries laws and policies? We believe the answer is yes, but a treaty is only as good as the parties that ratify and enforce it.

The treaty in question is the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, commonly called the Port State Measures Agreement, or the PSMA.

Adopted in 2009 by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, or FAO, the treaty requires parties to strengthen and harmonize port controls for foreign-flagged vessels, and as a result to keep illegal, unreported, and unregulated, or IUU, fish out of the world’s markets.

Ports known for lax law enforcement or limited inspection capacity are a prime pathway for unethical fishermen to get their catch from ship to shelf. Port States enforcing the treaty will refuse port entry or access to port services, including landing and transshipment of fish, to foreign-flagged vessels known to have engaged in IUU fishing. For this reason, Pew is encouraging all port States to ratify and implement the PSMA.

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Kimberly Vosburgh