[JURIST] The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) [official website] announced [press release] Tuesday that a group of 91 countries have reached an agreement on the final text of the first ever treaty [text, PDF] to combat 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. Under the terms of the treaty, foreign vessels will need special docking permission, countries will conduct regular inspections, and information sharing networks must be created. FAO Assistant-Director General for Fisheries and Aquaculture Ichiro Nomura said:
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. This treaty represents a real, palpable advance in the ongoing effort to stamp it out.
The treaty will now go before the FAO Committee on Constitutional and Legal Matters and the FAO Council later this month and then to the FAO Conference in November for final review and formal adoption. Once the treaty is adopted by 25 countries, it will enter into force within 30 days.
Illegal fishing has become a widespread global problem because it has a serious detriment on the legitimate fishing industry. Environmental groups have estimated that nearly 20 percent of landed fish were caught illegally. The US State Department [official website] said last week that the treaty is "a step forward in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing." The International Ocean Governance Director of the Pew Environment Group [advocacy website] Stefan Flothmann said [press release] that "the treaty's effectiveness relies heavily upon its broad ratification, successful implementation and the willingness of nations to share enforcement information."