New International Accord to Tackle Illegal Fishing

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With fishing operations becoming increasingly industrial in size and many traditional fishers finding their livelihoods disappearing, a new international accord to tackle illegal and under-reported fishing will come into force on June 5, 2016. Under these Port States Measures Agreement (PSMA), governments will be required to inspect foreign fishing vessels that dock in their ports.

Although this is said to be in response to the dwindling fish stock, but experts say that the law will only partially solve the wider challenge of dwindling fish stocks, as governments continue to set legal fishing quotas above sustainable levels. According to Elizabeth Wilson, director of international ocean policy at Pew Charitable Trust, the Pacific Blue Fin Tuna has suffered from poor management.

Once the quotas are set, governments must ensure that they are adhered to. One way that the quotas are being exceeded is through illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing. The FAO says that this accounts for up to 26 million tonnes of fish and worth nearly 23 billion US dollars caught every year with the Pacific Island Countries being particularly vulnerable to overfishing.

57 countries (including the European Union) have already signed up to the PSMA. The accord promises to be very effective as long as there are as many countries as possible on board, so many that doors are closed, and they implement what they have committed themselves to doing. Food and Agriculture Organization plans to increase its work with developing countries to help them better regulate illegal fishing, although he noted that this is subject to funding.

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