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Agreement to fight illegal, unregulated fishing

Hon Phil Heatley
Minister of Fisheries

18 December 2009
Media Statement

NZ signs Port State Measures Agreement to fight illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing

Fisheries Minister Phil Heatley has announced that New Zealand had signed a major international agreement designed to prevent illegally caught fish being landed in ports.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing is the first legally binding international treaty focused specifically on the problem of IUU fishing. New Zealand is the twelfth signatory to the agreement and played a central role in its development.

Port State measures apply to vessels from the time they request entry to a port until they leave it. They can include provisions that deny vessels port entry and access to non-essential services, as well as providing for vessel inspections.

IUU fishing undermines efforts to conserve and manage fish stocks. It has a negative impact on social and economic opportunities, as well as food security and the environment.

“As a world leader in fisheries management, we take our international duties and responsibilities very seriously,” Mr Heatley said. “This is a significant step in the evolution of legally binding rules to combat IUU fishing. The scale of the problem internationally is huge and it is in all our interests to eliminate IUU fishing activities.”

The global value of IUU fishing is estimated at between $6 billion and $13 billion. To put this in perspective from a New Zealand point of view, this represents between four and 10 times the value of our annual seafood exports.

“This agreement demonstrates that many countries agree that there is a need for an international minimum standard of port State measures to combat IUU,” Mr Heatley said. “Although New Zealand already meets or exceeds most of the minimum standards set out in the agreement, it provides an internationally agreed reference point.

“Fishing is one of the most significant economic opportunities for our Pacific Island neighbours and this agreement provides a robust framework for strengthening port State measures across the region to combat IUU fishing,” Mr Heatley said.

“It is important that we support the international fight against IUU fishing, which can seriously impair efforts to rebuild depleted stocks, with potentially wider environmental and economic impacts. IUU fishing hurts legal fishers who abide by the rules, including fishers from New Zealand,” Mr Heatley concluded.

For the FAO release on the agreement, see http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/29592/icode/

ENDS

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