FAO`s agreement on port state measures to prevent, combat and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (PSMA) was adopted by the UN FAO conference in 2009 and came into force in June 2016. The PSMA is the first binding international agreement to prevent the trade in illegally caught fish. This is an important international development in global efforts to end illegal fishing and strengthen fisheries management and fisheries policy. Illegal, unreported and unregulated catches (INRI fishing) continue to reach global markets and account for up to $23.5 billion in seafood per year. To combat this illegal activity, the Un Food and Agriculture Organization Convention on Port Measures (PSMA) came into force in 2016, after exceeding 25 ratifications. The provisions of the PSMA apply to fishing vessels requesting entry into a given port of a different state than that of their flag state. States, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations are coming together to help the parties fill gaps in their legal, institutional and operational capacity to enforce the Agreement. This work includes aligning legislation with PSMA requirements, establishing mechanisms to monitor INN offenders, training staff in port inspection standards, and introducing information-sharing strategies and technologies. Particular attention should also be paid to the implementation of the PSMA to ensure that commitments are followed by effective measures and the correct implementation of the provisions of the agreement.
Countries note that the agreement is an inexpensive instrument to combat illegal fishing. Sending patrol vessels to pursue and possibly arrest illegal operators on the high seas is costly and dangerous. In comparison, port surveillance is safer and less costly. The PSMA, adopted in 2009 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), requires parties to carry out stricter controls on foreign-flagged vessels wishing to use their ports to disembark or overload fish. Global participation is essential to the success of the PSMA. If governments agree with the agreement and demonstrate their commitment to the fight against INT fishing, the gaps that allow illegal fishermen to compete will diminish. The consequent international dynamics of recent years have increased the number of contracting parties to the agreement, making it increasingly difficult for illegitimate catches to access domestic and international markets and reducing the incentive for dishonest companies to continue their INN activities.