The Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA) entered into force on 5 June 2016. The PSMA is the first binding international agreement to target illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. These measures will make IUU fishing less profitable and less attractive by:
- making it harder for these fishers to operate
- stopping illegally sourced fish from entering the market.
Australia is one of 22 countries to ratify the agreement. Other countries are: Angola, Benin, Brazil, Canada, Chile, the European Union, France, Gabon, Ghana, Iceland, Indonesia, Kenya, Mozambique, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, the Russian Federation, Samoa, Sierra Leone, Turkey, the United States of America and Uruguay.
Australia signed the Agreement on 27 April 2010 and ratified the agreement on 20 July 2015.
There are important requirements that we must meet under the PSMA.
We must designate ports that foreign-flagged fishing vessels can access.
Operators of these vessels must:
- request permission for port access ahead of arrival
- transmit information on their activities and the fish they have on board.
This will give our port authorities an opportunity to identify vessels of potential concern.
Access to ports
Foreign vessels that have engaged in or supported IUU fishing must be denied:
- port access (landing, transhipping and processing of fish)
- port services (refuelling, resupplying and repair).
‘Vessels’ includes both fishing vessels and support vessels (such as supply and freezer vessels).
This applies to foreign-flagged vessels. Port authorities must also ensure that equally effective measures are in place for Australian vessels.
Port authorities must conduct regular inspections of vessels accessing their ports.
The PSMA outlines standards for these inspections, to check for evidence of IUU fishing. This includes:
- reviews of ship papers
- surveys of fishing gear
- examining catches
- checking a ship's records.
Ports and inspectors must be adequately equipped and trained.
All vessels may be subject to inspection by port under the PSMA. We are required to respond to any inspection reports that a vessel flying our flag has engaged in IUU fishing.
The PSMA calls for the creation of an information-sharing mechanism.
This will enable countries to share details on vessels associated with IUU fishing. It also contains provisions to help developing countries meet their obligations under the agreement.
The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), as the Commonwealth fisheries regulator, implements the PSMA as part of Australia’s port State controls. This includes:
- providing port access permits
- inspecting foreign fishing vessels entering Australian ports.