FAO: Fishing for a New Accord
By admin June 15, 2016

Last week, the first- ever international treaty focused on illegal fishing was put into effect, binding 29 countries which have agreed to adhere to it. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)’s Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA) brings together countries which are major port State, and aims to prevent, deter and eliminate unreported and unregulated fishing.  This includes enforcing stricter management of ports, detecting illegal fishing, stopping ill-caught fish from being sold and sharing information on unscrupulous vessels. The accord seeks to address common illegal fishing activities such as fishing without authorization, catching protected species, using outlawed gears and techniques and harvesting over catch quotas.

Historically fishing and the use of marine resources have provided social and economic benefits to humans, including livelihood, food security, nutrition and culture. However with prolonged and widespread overfishing, ecosystems, fisheries and global food supplies are at risk of collapse. Overfishing, or catching too many fish at a given point in time, has made it difficult for the remaining fish populations to breed and recover.

Overfishing and lack of interest in maintaining fish habits stems from the common pool nature of fishing. It is difficult to protect fishing from exploitation because fish stocks are not “owned” by a single country. The migratory behavioral patterns of fish make regulation and visibility of overfishing even more difficult. Other major root causes of overfishing include insufficient knowledge by consumers and fishermen, lack of fitting and appropriate assessment techniques, lack of incentive and regulation, and poverty. Take for instance the pervasive mentality that “if I don’t exploit the fisheries, someone else will” coupled with the use of destructive fishing technique and lack of regulation has in turn resulted in reduced catch per- unit effort over time, reduction of household income, lower nutrition levels, worsened labor issues and conditions, which all ultimately lead to increasing internal conflict.

Fishing serves as an important source of livelihood for millions of people, where 95 percent of the world’s fishers live in the developing countries. Small-scale fisheries account for about 90 percent of fishing employment in the global supply chain, and are finding themselves in increasingly competitive conditions as industrial fishing expands. The relationship between overfishing and poverty is both causal and consequential. Lack of access to alternative employment, credit, and social support has forced fishers in poverty to draw from diminishing stock and employ destructive fishing practices for increased catch.

Alterative policies and options to regulate fishing have been difficult to implement, especially for developing countries, as they are expensive and challenging to implement across expansive spaces of large oceans. So far, controlling fishing activity through ports is the most efficient and cost-effective way to fight illegal fishing. However, in order to alleviate ecological and economic pressures in the fishing industry, governments will need to implement more robust policy instruments, including increased marine protected areas, zoning, consumer and supplier education, subsidies and alternative livelihood programs for the poor, and localized economic development.


For more information:

World’s First Illegal Fishing Treaty Now in Force

Main Ethical Issues in Fisheries

Challenges to International Waters –Regional Assessments in a Global Perspective, Overfishing and other threats to aquatic resources

Oceans: Turn the tide of overfishing

Forming Common Cause to Fight Overfishing

Overfishing drives Thai boats to use more slave labour, sail further


Thanks for sharing !

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