New Entrants to Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA)

Four African countries recently backed the Food and Agricultural Organziation’s (FAO) Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA). With this, the number of signatories to the PSMA has risen to 100.

What is PSMA?

The Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA) is the first internationally binding instrument that specifically aims to prevent and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing by denying port access to foreign vessels that are engaged in or supporting such practices. The Agreement came into force in June 2016.

Why is PSMA needed?

The IUU fishing refers to fishing or fishing-related activities that are:

  1. Against national, regional and international laws
  2. Non-reporting, misreporting or underreporting of information on fishing operations and their catches
  3. Fishing aboard stateless vessels
  4. Non-party vessels fishing in areas that are under the mandate of the regional fisheries management organizations.
  5. Fishing activities that are not regulated by the government and cannot be monitored.

One in every five fish caught across the world every year originates from IUU fishing. The IUU fishing is responsible for the loss of over 11 to 26 million tonnes of fish each year, having economic value of 10 billion to 23 billion USD.

Sustainable fishing is required to maintain the fish stock and preserve the environment and livelihoods of communities that rely on fishing activities.

The 2030 SDG goals mandate the effective regulation of fishing and the elimination of overfishing, IUU fishing and destructive fishing practices by 2020. This target was never achieved.

Therefore, the implementation of the PSMA is one of the cost effective ways to bring down IUU fishing instances.

Who are the signatories of the PSMA?

Four African countries – Angola, Eritrea, Morocco and Nigeria – became the new entrants of the PSMA. According to the IUU Fishing Index 2021, Nigeria is among the top 10 worst-performing countries.

Currently, over 60 per cent of port countries are globally committed to the PSMA to combat IUU fishing. Around 100 countries that have endorsed the agreement are currently able to exchange information via the PSMA Global Information Exchange System, which was launched by FAO in December 2021.

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