Treaty to fight illegal fishing is a victory for Africa, says Africa Progress Panel

Geneva, 11 July 2016 — The world’s first binding agreement to protect global fisheries from illegal fishing promises to give a significant boost to Africa’s 35 coastal nations, the Africa Progress Panel said today.

The Panel welcomes the entry into force of the Port State Measures Agreement, which aims to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Foreign fishing vessels have long robbed Africa’s rich coastal waters with impunity. The agreement will make it much harder for them to continue their illegal activity, by blocking their access to ports.

IUU fishing costs African countries substantial amounts of money every year. West Africa alone loses US$1.3 billion annually. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Chair of the Africa Progress Panel, said that this plunder of Africa’s fisheries destroys entire coastal communities when they lose the opportunities to catch, process and trade. “Commercial trawlers that operate under flags of convenience, and unload in ports that do not record their catch, are engaging in organised theft disguised as commerce”, he added.

The Africa Progress Panel urges all countries to ratify and implement the agreement, whose entry into force will be celebrated at a high-level ceremony on 11 July in Rome at the headquarters of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). The FAO brokered the adoption of the treaty in 2009.

The treaty stands to make a significant difference as countries close their ports to vessels engaged in illegal fishing, preventing their catches from reaching national and international markets.

The Africa Progress Panel raised awareness of the urgency for better management of fisheries resources in its 2014 report Grain, Fish, Money: Financing Africa’s green and blue revolutions, which called for firm support of the Port States Measures Agreement.

The entry into force of the treaty is a significant victory. The FAO and all the parties that have played a key role in making the treaty a reality deserve recognition for attaining such a crucial milestone in the fight against illegal fishing worldwide.

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More on the Africa Progress Panel’s engagement for sustainable fisheries:

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Contact: Dan Graham

T: + 41 22 919 75 38

dan.graham@africaprogresspanel.org