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.

PSMA Ratification Progress
PSMA Ratification Progress
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PSMA Ratification Progress

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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.

Fishing Boat
Fishing Boat
Issue Brief

The Port State Measures Agreement

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Issue Brief

The Port State Measures Agreement

When the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA) entered into force in 2016, the United Nations hailed it as the beginning of a new era in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Over 25 governments had ratified or otherwise signed on to the treaty, surpassing the threshold needed to bring it into force. That number has more than doubled in the years since. But can a single treaty create a mechanism strong enough to combat widespread disregard for fisheries laws and policies? We believe the answer is yes, but the agreement is only as good as the parties that adhere to and enforce it.

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