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Countries are joining combat against illegal fishing worth $23 billion

Staff writer ▼ | August 8, 2015
A growing number of countries are ratifying an international agreement to combat illegal fishing, fueling interest in how best to implement the instrument.
Fishing boat
FAO   Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing
Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is estimated to strip between $10 billion and $23 billion from the global economy, and their impacts undermine the way fish stocks are managed to make it a double concern around the world.

To help tackle the problem, FAO brokered the adoption in 2009 by its Member countries of the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing.

The agreement comes into force when 25 countries have deposited their instrument of ratification, known as acceptance of accession; so far, 12 countries have done so, the latest being Iceland in June. Two more states will soon join them.

"Port state measures" generally refer to actions taken to detect illegal fishing when ships come to port.

The Agreement promotes collaboration between fishermen, port authorities, coast guards and navies to strengthen inspections and control procedures at ports and on vessels. Importantly, it also allows states to prevent the landings of catches derived from IUU fishing by vessels regardless of the flag they fly.

The Agreement will enable better compliance with the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, which seeks to promote the long-term sustainability of the sector.

Illicit fishing, which includes operating without authorization, harvesting protected species, using outlawed fishing gear and violating quota limits, may account for up to 26 million tonnes of seafood a year, more than 15 percent of the total global output.

Besides economic damage, it poses risks to local biodiversity and food security in many countries.

The crew of the illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing vessel Perlon, detained by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) in May this year, has been convicted of offences under the Malaysian Fisheries Act.[break]

A Malaysian court has fined the master and the crew of the Perlon approximately AUD $600,000 and ordered forfeiture of the catch valued at approximately AUD $1.8 million.