South Africa has become the latest country to accede the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA). South Africa’s ratification, on the 16th of February 2016, brings the number of countries that have deposited their instruments to become Parties to the PSMA to 21 after Barbados’ ratification on the 2nd of February 2016.

With the second largest coastline on continental Africa and being the only African country whose coastline borders two oceans South Africa holds an important role in the movement of fishing vessels on the continent. Home to some of Africa’s busiest ports South Africa will play a major role in preventing illegal fish entering the market or illegal operators from using port services.

Markus Burgener, Senior Programme Officer with TRAFFIC East/Southern Africa and co-chair of Stop Illegal Fishing welcomed the accession of South Africa to the PSMA.  ‘With six African States now Parties to the Agreement, there is growing momentum to ensure that African ports play a strong role in combating IUU fishing and related trade.’

South Africa joins Gabon, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles and Somalia to become the sixth African nation to become a Party to the PSMA, only four more Parties are required to reach the 25 required for the PSMA to enter into force. Ratification by the US is anticipated after the country recently took a major step towards ratification by becoming a signatory to the PSMA on the 11th of February 2016.

As momentum gathers more African nations are expected to adopt this cost-effective way to stop IUU fishing and deny access to fishers attempting to unload illegal catch in their ports.