Port State Measures (PSM)

Port State Measures (PSM) are requirements established or interventions undertaken by port states which a foreign fishing vessel must comply with or is subjected to as a condition for use of ports within the port state.  National PSM would typically include requirements related to prior notification of port entry, use of designated ports, restrictions on port entry and landing/transhipment of fish, restrictions on supplies and services, documentation requirements and port inspections, as well as related measures, such as IUU vessel listing, trade-related measures and sanctions.

Implementing PSM in Majuro (RMI) the busiest tuna transhipment port in the Pacific

Implementing PSM in Majuro (RMI) the busiest tuna transhipment port in the Pacific

Many of these measures have in recent years seen their inclusion and development in international instruments. The recent entry in force of the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (FAO PSMA) has given a boost to these requirements as it obliges the over 50 members that have signed so far to incorporate its requirements into legislation. 

Operationally the PSMA require from Port States to consider the following mechanisms:

  • Two-way communications for acquiring information about vessels using or intending to use port facilities; communications with flag states and parties such as coastal states and RFMOs are basic and fundamental.
  • Designated specific fishing ports for foreign fishing vessels must be made mandatory as to enables effective oversight.
  • Incoming vessels must formally request port entry to enable resources to be allocated for port procedures, vessel inspections if required and processing of catch certificates and so on.
  • A system of authorizations for entering ports and unloading should be in place to ensure that permissions are denied in cases of suspected or established IUU fishing.
  • When inspections are required, sufficiently competent fisheries inspectors with law-enforcement powers must be on hand.
  • Standard inspection information must be recorded and transmitted in accordance with PSMA and/or RFMO rules.

Yet, to implement these mechanisms, there are specific organizational and capacity building requirements that need to be tailored to the fisheries and socio-economic realities of each country.

Over the last few years, I worked with many countries through contracts with FAO and other organizations helping with the successful implementation of PSMA and its constituent elements.