Japan joins Port State Measures Agreement

Published on
May 23, 2017

Japan has become the 48th country to join the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA), a global treaty designed to help eradicate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

The treaty was ratified in June 2016 after it reached the threshold of 25 signatories. Since it went into effect, an additional 20 countries have become parties to PSMA, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Japan’s movement to become a part of the treaty is significant due to its large consumption of imported seafood – ranked third globally behind the European Union and the United States.

“The ratification of the agreement signifies a critical step in Japan’s efforts to close its ports to illegal fishers,” the Pew Charitable Trusts said in a statement.”

Tony Long, director of Pew’s Ending Illegal Fishing Project, delivered high praise Japan for its action.

“Japan is one of the world’s top fishery producers and has demonstrated a growing concern about illegal fishing in the past several years through its membership in all regional fisheries management organizations and its consistent support of catch documentation schemes and IUU fishing measures,” Long said. “Although fertile fishing grounds surround the country, its fishery production has been on the decline for the past few decades, making it more dependent on imports. Given Japan’s importance as both a fishing nation and consumer of seafood, its accession to the Port State Measures Agreement is an important step toward eliminating it both as a market and opportunity to land seafood that has been caught illegally.

Given that Japan imports about half of the seafood it consumes, the PSMA ratification can give Japanese consumers “assurance that the government is committed to ensuring that the fish they buy has been caught legally, and help protect the country’s domestic fisheries,” Long said.

“Japan is a key actor in the global fishing industry and plays a critical role in moving toward a future of legally caught seafood and transparency in the supply chain,” he said. “Japan’s accession to the Port State Measures Agreement demonstrates the strong leadership needed in this region of the world.”

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