Photo: Trawler arrested in 2016 by the Norwegian Coast Guard for illegal fishing. Source: Wikimedia - Photo: 2019

ACP Urges G20 to End Menacing Illegal Unreported and Unregulated Fishing

By Reinhard Jacobsen

BRUSSELS (IDN) – Ahead of the G20 Summit in Japan’s Osaka on June 28-29, the Brussels-based organisation of 79 developing countries, the ACP Group of States, called upon Heads of Government to take strong measures to end Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing – an issue at the core of marine ecosytems and ensuring food security.

This has a pride of place in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in their entirety and SDG14 in particular, the international community pledged in September 2015 to achieve by 2030.

The ACP Group says that illegal, unreported and unregulated Fishing in ACP coastal countries remains one of the greatest threats to marine ecosystems, dependent communities and the society as a whole. It undermines efforts to conserve and sustainably manage fish stocks, destroys the food security of affected coastal countries and harms their economic interests.

The international importance of the ACP is underlined by the fact that globally, about 20 percent of the annual catch valued at US $23 billion (€20,2 billion) comes from IUU fishing. A large percentage originates from developing countries with inadequate regulatory oversight and control measures. For ACP regions, estimates of the economic loss due to IUU fishing remain uncertain but runs into billions of dollars.

Subsequently, the ACP Group told the G20 leaders, IUU fishing is not only a challenge for ACP countries but indeed a global problem that requires intensified actions by all actors following the adoption of the SDGs.

The ACP stressed that entry into force of the FAO Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA) in 2016, now ratified by 33 of the 65 ACP coastal states, demonstrates the growing commitment by members of the ACP Group to make a united stand against IUU fishing by denying IUU operators access to ports in ACP countries.

The PSMA is the first binding international agreement to specifically target illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Its objective is to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing by preventing vessels engaged in IUU fishing from using ports and landing their catches.

In this way, the PSMA reduces the incentive of such vessels to continue to operate while it also blocks fishery products derived from IUU fishing from reaching national and international markets. The effective implementation of the PSMA ultimately contributes to the long-term conservation and sustainable use of living marine resources and marine ecosystems. The provisions of the PSMA apply to fishing vessels seeking entry into a designated port of a State which is different to their flag State.

The ACP received flanking support from Members of the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy together with the Seafood Business for Ocean Stewardship, which also appealed to G20 governments to close the net on IUU fishing by becoming Parties to the 2009 FAO Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA).

The High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy is made up of 15 Heads of State and the United Nations’ Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean. The letter concludes by saying that “eighty-six countries have now signed up. We need G20 countries and all important flag and port states to join them and implement this agreement”.

Referring to the September 2017 Bahamas Declaration of ACP Ministers in Charge of fisheries and aquaculture, the ACP Group also called on the G20 to support capacity building initiatives to reinforce the effectiveness of surveillance and control programmes and reform national fisheries regulations to promote compliance to national and regional fishery management measures.

The ACP Group invited G20 to support actions that strengthen regional cooperation mechanisms in the fight against IUU fishing and enhance the exchange of information and good practices, joint surveillance and control programmes for sustainable fisheries and aquaculture development. [IDN-InDepthNews – 28 June 2019]

Photo: Trawler arrested in 2016 by the Norwegian Coast Guard for illegal fishing. Source: Wikimedia

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