More funding needed to fight illegal fishing – UN agency

Excessive fishing and the problem of illegal, unreported, underreported fishing are closely linked

24 June 2008 – The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has appealed for $1 million for a project designed to help developing countries deny port access to boats involved in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

“In the developing world, fishing plays a crucial role in reinforcing household food security, improving nutrition, and providing income. In light of rising world food prices and growing concern over the wellbeing of some wild fish stocks, we can afford less than ever to allow IUU fishing to impact these communities,” FAO Assistant-Director General for Fisheries, Ichiro Nomura, told donor countries today.

The funds would be used to finance an ongoing FAO project launched in 2005 to help countries put in place stronger port State measures, such as carrying out inspections of vessels when they land to refuel or offload fish.

In addition, boats involved in illegal fishing can be denied docking rights, causing considerable financial losses to their owners. Such measures are among the most-effective means of preventing the import, transhipment or laundering of illegally caught fish, according to FAO.

Developing countries, where limited funds and expertise often translate into lax oversight and port controls, are targeted by IUU fishers because they provide convenient entry points for illegal catches.

“These countries need exposure to state-of-the-art practices, training for their line officials, and to establish better lines of communication at the regional level to share information on offenders and harmonize actions,” said Mr. Nomura.

To assist these countries, FAO is conducting a series of regional workshops to strengthen port State measures, targeting port inspectors, fisheries authorities, legal experts, foreign affairs officials and customs officers.

Mr. Nomura noted that that momentum is building towards the adoption of a legally binding international agreement on port State measures. “The workshops will allow countries to hit the ground running when the international agreement comes into force,” he said.


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