National strategy to eliminate IUU in the works

Since fish accounts for around 6 percent of the annual protein needs of Ghanaians, illegal, unregulated and unregulated (IUU) fishing, which accounts for roughly 30 percent annual fish loss, is a big deal for the country.

FAO Country Representative Abebe Haile Gabriel, in his opening remarks in a workshop to formulate a national strategy and action plan for compliance with the 2009 FAO Agreement on Port States Measures to prevent and deter IUU fishing, observed that on average per capita consumption is estimated at about 23-25 kilogrammes per year, and is on the high side.

“As many as 2.5 million people are directly dependent on the fisheries sector for their livelihoods, which means that it is an important job creation sector. An improved performance of the fisheries and aquaculture sector in Ghana is therefore strategic and consequential for the achievement of SDGs,” Haile Gabriel added.

The Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA) is the first binding international agreement to specifically target illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. It aims to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing by preventing vessels engaged in IUU fishing from using ports and landing their catches.

The FAO Country Representative said in this way the PSMA reduces the incentive of such vessels to continue operating, while it also blocks fishery products derived from IUU fishing from reaching national and international markets.

The PSMA entered into force on 5th June, 2016, and as at February 2018, there were 52 States Parties and one member-organisation (the EU).

IUU fishing not only robs the world’s oceans of 26 million tonnes of seafood annually, bringing financial losses to a staggering US$23billion a year, but also severely affects the livelihoods of fishers, exacerbates poverty, and contributes heavily to food insecurity.

Hence, port controls, when done properly, can be very efficient in combatting illegal fishing activities. The PSMA helps regulate the fishing boats coming through every port, enhance regional and international cooperation, and blocks the flow of IUU-caught fish into national and international markets.

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