ECONOMY er-sectors

New treaty to leave 'fish pirates' without safe haven

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News | 9/6/2009 12:00:00 AM |

Turkey and other members of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations have agreed on an international pact to combat illegal fishing.

Turkey and other members of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, or FAO, have agreed on an international pact to implement measures to combat illegal fishing.

The final text of a new treaty that aims to close fishing ports to vessels involved in illegal, unreported and unregulated, or IUU, fishing has been agreed upon by a group of 91 countries during talks brokered by the FAO. The Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing will be the first-ever global treaty focused specifically on the problem of IUU fishing, the FAO said last week.

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

The agreement aims to help keep IUU-caught fish from entering international markets, thereby removing an important incentive for fishermen to engage in such practices. Participating countries agree to take a number of steps to close their ports to non-complying fishing vessels.

[HH] Ratification process

The agreement falls under Article XIV of the FAO Constitution, with the organization’s director-general acting as legal depository for the countries’ ratifications.

It will next be reviewed by the FAO’s Committee on Constitutional and Legal Matters at its Sept. 23 to 25 meeting; from there it will go to the FAO Council starting in late September and the FAO Conference in November for final review and formal adoption. However, the substantive work on the treaty is considered to have been finalized already.

So-called “port state measures” are widely considered one of the most effective, and cost-effective, weapons in the fight against illicit fishing.

“Of course, the effectiveness of port state measures depends in large part on how well countries implement them,” said David Doulman, an expert on the issue from the FAO, who noted that agreement provides assistance and support to developing countries to help them with implementation. “So the focus now is to make sure that countries and other involved parties have the means and know-how to enforce it, and that they are living up to their commitments.”



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