More than 90 countries agree to UN-backed treaty to stamp out pirate fishing

A port inspector checks the mesh gauge of a fishing net to make sure it is of legal size

1 September 2009 – Some 91 countries have agreed to the final text of a United Nations-brokered treaty aimed at combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) announced today.

The first ever global pact, which intends to block illicit fish catches from entering international markets, focuses on ending such violations as fishing without a licence, using illegal gear, disregarding fishing seasons, catching prohibited or undersized species, and fishing in closed areas.

“By frustrating responsible management, IUU fishing damages the productivity of fisheries, or leads to their collapse,” said FAO Assistant-Director General for Fisheries and Aquaculture, Ichiro Nomura.

“That's a serious problem for the people who depend on them for food and income,” stressed Mr. Nomura, noting that this “treaty represents a real, palpable advance in the ongoing effort to stamp it out.”

The “Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing” commits countries to a number of measures to harden their ports against illegitimate fishers.

Foreign fishing boats will be required to request permission to dock from specially designated ports ahead of time, transmitting information on their activities and the fish they have on board. The treaty also mandates regular inspections and outlines a set of standards that will be used during those inspections, including reviews of ship papers, surveys of fishing gear, examining catches and checking a ship’s records.

The treaty calls for information-sharing networks to allow communications to all national authorities about vessels that have been denied access to ports, and it contains provisions intended to assist resource-strapped developing countries meet their treaty obligations.

“Of course, the effectiveness of port state measures depends in large part on how well countries implement them,” said David Doulman, an expert on the issue from the FAO. “So the focus now is to make sure that countries and other involved parties have the means and know-how to enforce it and are living up to their commitments.”


News Tracker: past stories on this issue

Marine stocks hurt by abandoned fishing gear, finds UN study

Related Stories



In-depth Interviews


No related press releases
No related press briefing notes