Thursday, September 3, 2009
The United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has announced agreement on a first-ever treaty designed to prevent and punish illegal fishing. The Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing aims to prevent illegally caught fish from entering international markets. The draft text may be found here. The treaty addresses longstanding international concerns regarding IUU which has a detrimental effect on fish stocks, marine ecosystems, food supplies, and those who depend on fishing for their livelihood. Environmental groups estimate that 20% of fish are caught illegally. The treaty seeks to better detect, prevent and punish IUU fishing by creating special rules for port entry and docking, inspections of vessels, and information-sharing among States Parties. Ninety-one states participated in the negotiation and drafting of the treaty. The United States Department of State participated actively in this work and has expressed its strong support for the treaty. The text must now be formally approved, which is expected to occur at an FAO World Food Summit in Rome in November. Once that is done, twenty-five states must ratify the treaty before it will take effect.