What is happening with UN Port State Measures Agreement ? / by Francisco Blaha

My friend and colleague Pramod Ganapathiraju recently published a very interesting review of the state of the play of the UN PSMA, and where is it going. I reproduce some of the the main parts below. 

South Korea became the 19th country to ratify the UN Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA) on 14 January 2016 (surely as result of the EU yellow card pressure). The spree of recent ratifications is seen as a stride in the right direction. If the present pace continues the treaty might come into effect well before the end of first quarter this year.

 UN- PSMA (Ratifications) Jan 14, 2016 Countries that have ratified the PSMA

UN- PSMA (Ratifications) Jan 14, 2016 Countries that have ratified the PSMA

The UN Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing was approved by the FAO Conference at its Thirty-sixth Session (Rome, 18-23 November 2009) under paragraph 1 of Article XIV of the FAO Constitution, through Resolution No 12/2009 dated 22 November 2009.

Progress: 23 Parties have signed the agreement until today  include Angola, Australia, Benin, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, European Union, France, Gabon, Ghana, Iceland, Indonesia, Kenya, Mozambique, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Russian Federation, Samoa, Sierra Leone, Turkey, USA, Uruguay. The Agreement shall enter into force thirty days after the date of deposit with the Director-General of FAO of the 25th instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession. With the latest ratification 19 parties have ratified the PSMA till date.

So there a need of another six countries to ratify the agreement.

In this context however it is surprising to see that progressive countries like Canada and France are still lagging behind in the ratification process although both signed the treaty as early as 2010 (Canada and France signed the treaty on 19 November 2010). Brazil signed the treaty on 22 November 2009 but is yet to follow up with the ratification process

 Countries that have signed the PSMA but not ratified it yet

Countries that have signed the PSMA but not ratified it yet

This fact assumes importance as five countries have directly ratified the treaty without initially signing it just within the last two months. The notable five include Republic of Korea (14 January 2016), Saint Kitts and Nevis (9 December 2015), Palau (30 November 2015), Somalia (9 November 2015), Costa Rica (4 December 2015) and Mauritius (31 August 2015).

Canada, France, Russia, Indonesia, Ghana, Peru and Brazil should expedite the ratification process so that the PSMA will come into effect as soon as possible.

However, only when countries with big import markets such as Japan, Taiwan and China also become a party, then meaningful change and improved traceability would be achieved. (Taiwan cannot in reality... because is not a UN member country due to China's position that taiwan is actually a province of China)

What is the deal in the Pacific?

The position of the Pacific Island Countries is a cautious one, as the signing would incorporate strict requirements to the already limited capacities of many of our countries.  Four of the 100 main fishing ports in the world are in the Pacific Islands. 

Many of the PI countries believe that signing will result in transferring a disproportionate burden of compliance action to them, while the "rich" Distant Water Fishing Nations (DWFN) like China and Taiwan keep business as usual.

The special requirements of developing countries, in particular Small Island Developing States and Participating Territories provided for in Article 30 of the WCPFC Convention and most UN documents, including the importance of port operations in the domestic economies of many Small Island Developing States and Participating Territories, supports they posture.

The recent rejection of a FFA sponsored Post State Measure to be incorporated as a CMM (Conservation and Management Measure) by WCPFC in their last meeting in Bali, by the DWFN seem to prove right their fears.

As usual... is more than just fishing and signing agreements...

Pramod original piece is here