On November 14, President Obama submitted to the Senate, for its advice and consent, a new treaty designed to combat illegal fishing activities worldwide. The treaty, known as the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, will help ensure that illegally harvested fish do not enter the stream of commerce.
Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a global problem that threatens healthy ocean ecosystems and sustainable fisheries. It undermines the sustainable practices of legitimate fishing operations in the United States, and elsewhere, and presents unfair market competition to sustainable seafood products. An estimated $10 to $23 billion in global value is lost annually due to IUU fishing.
All fish caught commercially at sea must eventually come to port. The Port State Measures Agreement requires nations that are party to the Agreement to take a number of practical steps to deny port entry and access to port services to foreign fishing and transport vessels that have harvested fish in violation of applicable rules or have supported such fishing.
Following calls from Congress to crack down on illegal fishing worldwide, the United States played an active role in the negotiation and adoption of this Agreement at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The United States was among the nations that signed the Agreement when it was adopted in 2009. To date, 22 nations and the European Union have signed the Agreement, and it will take effect once 25 nations have ratified it. Three nations and the European Union have completed their ratification procedures for the Agreement.
Interested stakeholders in the United States, including representatives of the fishing industry, the U.S. fishery management councils and the environmental community, participated on the U.S. delegation in the negotiation of the Agreement and continue to support its implementation.
The Department of State, along with the Department of Commerce and other interested agencies, looks forward to working with the Senate, with a view to securing advice and consent to ratification of the Agreement. The Administration also looks forward to working with both Houses of Congress on legislation to implement the Agreement.