The 32nd Session of the FAO’s Committee on Fisheries took place in Rome on 11-15 July 2016. The 2009 FAO Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (PSMA) was officially welcomed into force and delegates highlighted the continued need for more countries to become party to the agreement particularly key port States.

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva described the PSMA as the world’s first international treaty specifically aimed at tackling Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, adding that it “marks the dawn of a new era in the effort to combat illegal fishing. The FAO is working to deliver immediate support to those countries that are most in need of it.” Delegates to the meeting further highlighted this need, and a call for article 21 provision to be introduced was encouraged.

The African Group noted that nine countries on the continent are already parties to the PSMA and that several African countries have already started their procedures for becoming parties. The benefits associated with a future implementation of port State measures are already being seen, “when cooperation between the countries occurs, the implementation of the agreement becomes effective. Consequently, the African Voice encourages countries of the continent and beyond, to massively support Port State measures.”

Georges Mba-Asseko, Gabon, speaking on behalf of the African Group commented, “the continental consultative mechanism of the African Union (AU-IBAR and the NEPAD Agency), in association with the continental working groups, is committed to promote and implement the Port State Measures Agreement.”

The continued progress in the development of a Global Record of Fishing Vessels was recognised by many with the hope that a successful pilot phase, involving good representation from FISH-i Africa countries, will soon result in the development of a global database accessible by all.

The development of technical guidelines to assess the extent of illegal fishing was widely welcomed; Norway emphasised the need for more reliable figures and their importance for stock assessments and Gabon, speaking on behalf of the African Group, highlighted the need “to draw up a map of the extent of IUU fishing on the continent.”

A proposal for the establishment of an international day to fight illegal, unreported and unregulated was widely endorsed as a useful tool for raising awareness of this global issue.

Sandy Davies, Stop Illegal Fishing, assisted in coordinating the African Voice as part of the NEPAD Agency and AU-IBAR delegation, and commented “it is great to see that the African countries are leading the fight against IUU – this is demonstrated by their uptake of the PSMA, their representation in the Global Record initiative and in the evidence that is coming from initiatives such as FISH-i Africa – this is showing the world how IUU fishing is being done and how best we can stop it happening.”