Port State Measures to Fight Illegal Fishing Important for Tonga, Pacific Islands

Press Release: Tonga Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Forestry and Fisheries
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with the Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) and Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFFF) is conducting a National Workshop to build capacity for Tonga to implement the 2009 FAO Agreement on Port State Measures to combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing. The Workshop is being held in Nuku’alofa from 3 to 6 March 2015, and is attended by more than 30 government officials and representatives of the fisheries sector in Tonga.
Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing continues to be a threat to the effective conservation and management of fish stocks in the wider Pacific Region. IUU fishing is causing economic and social losses for the Pacific Countries and negatively impacts their food security and livelihoods.
The Agreement on Port State Measures is designed to intensify global collaboration between fisheries and port authorities, coast guards and navies. The aim of the Agreement is to eliminate IUU fishing, through globally agreed minimum standards for concerted action, enabling better inspections and controls at the ports and on vessels and strengthened flag state responsibility.
Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Honarable Semisi Fakahau, in his welcome address to the workshop thanked FAO and FFA for their financial and technical support and expressed the commitment of the Government of Tonga in taking steps towards protecting Tonga’s marine resources and preventing or deterring actions that can undermine the effectiveness of pertinent management and conservation measures. He stressed the importance of an inclusive inter-agency approach to implementing Port State Measures and welcomed the participation of representatives of the Ports Authority, Justice Department, Crown Law Office, the Navy, Customs and other national authorities to the workshop.
Ms. Nunia Mone, Head of Fisheries of the Division of MAFFF thanked FAO and FFA for agreeing to conduct the Workshop which will contribute to the Government’s commitment to fight IUU fishing.
Dr. Matthew Camilleri of FAO’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Department emphasized that port State measures was important in the fight against IUU fishing. The Agreement on Port State Measures is important for Tonga and the Pacific countries as it empowers them to exert greater control of their own waters and over shared stocks, increasing transparency of fishing operations. A harmonized system of port inspections, communications and measures means that the vessel is unable to offload its valuable catch or carry on fishing operations and may be squeezed out of business. Dr. Camilleri encouraged the Tonga and the Pacific countries to become “Champions of Port State Measures” and eliminate jointly illegal fisheries in the region.
Mr. Blaise Kuemlangan, Chief of the Development Law Service of FAO said the Agreement provides Pacific countries a cost- effective way to combat IUU fishing. Where there is evidence of IUU fishing by a vessel that requests entry to its port, the port State may prohibit such entry. Where the vessel has entered port, the port State may – or in certain circumstances must – deny the use of port to the vessel for such profitable activities including landings, transshipments, supply and services.
Experts from FAO, FFA and participants of the workshop will study the Agreement on Port State Measures in detail and share information, global best practices and experiences to determine the best and cost effective means of implementing the Agreement. The participants will also discuss and identify legal and policy, institutional and capacity development and operational issues relating to implementation of the Agreement. They will also have the opportunity to discuss strengths, gaps and constraints, actions to address the gaps and priorities and strategies for moving forward.
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More information about port State measures can be found at: http://www.fao.org/fishery/psm/en.

The International Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) Network aims to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of fisheries-related MCS activities through enhanced cooperation, coordination, information collection and exchange among national organizations and institutions responsible for fisheries-related MCS.