New treaty to clamp down on IUU fishing


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
August 31, 2009

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization on Tuesday announced that 91 countries have agreed to sign a treaty aiming to close fishing ports to vessels involved in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

The treaty is the first ever to focus specifically on IUU fishing. The agreement is intended to block illegally-caught fish from entering international markets, removing a key incentive for fishermen engaged in illicit fishing.

Under the agreement, foreign fishing vessels will be required to request permission from specially designed ports before docking. The treaty also commits countries to regular inspections, including reviews of ship papers, surveys of fishing gear, examining catches and checking a ship’s records. When a vessels is denied access, port states must announce it publicly and authorities from the country whose flag the vessel is flying must take action.

The treaty also calls for the creation of information-sharing networks to let countries share details on IUU-associated vessels and contains provisions designed to help resource-strapped developing countries meet their treaty obligations.

“By frustrating responsible management, IUU fishing damages the productivity of fisheries, or leads to their collapse. That’s a serious problem for the people who depend on them for food and income,” said Ichiro Nomura, FAO assistant director general for fisheries and aquaculture. “This treaty represents a real, palpable advance in the ongoing effort to stamp it out.”

The treaty will be reviewed by FAO’s Committee on Constitutional and Legal Matters at its 23 to 25 September meeting.

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