Five more States have signed a United Nations treaty that aims to curb illegal fishing by denying port docking rights to ships involved in the illicit practice.
The five new signatories to the agreement – Australia, Gabon, Peru, New Zealand and Russia – bring to 16 the number of States that have ratified the treaty, which requires signature by 25 countries to enter into force.
The Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing was brokered by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Eleven other FAO members – Angola, Brazil, Chile, the European Community, Iceland, Indonesia, Norway, Samoa, Sierra Leone, the United States and Uruguay – signed the agreement in November 2009 after it was approved by the agency’s governing conference.
“Once it becomes active, this will be the most significant international treaty dealing with fisheries since the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement,” said Changchui He, FAO’s Deputy Director-General, following the signing of the agreement by Russia at the agency’s headquarters in Rome today.
“We take it as a very positive sign that the Russian Federation as well as other recent signatories have come on board. It indicates a broad level of support. The sooner the treaty receives the required 25 ratifications to become active, the sooner countries will have a valuable new tool for combating illegal fishing,” he added.
“Port state measures” refer to actions taken to detect illegal fishing when ships come to port. The actions can include inspection of documentation, catches and equipment when boats land to take on fuel and supplies or offload fish, or requiring vessels to make activity reports before entering port.
Vessels found to be involved in illegal fishing can be denied docking rights, causing considerable financial losses to their owners. Such measures are among the most effective means of preventing the import, trans-shipment or laundering of illegally caught fish.