Illegal fishers will find it increasingly difficult to get their catch to market, as Kenya becomes the 51st country to become party to the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA). This international treaty is designed to end illegal fishing by tightening controls exerted on fishing vessels as they access port services.
The PSMA came into force in 2016 and has had strong support by the countries of the Western Indian Ocean. Kenya is a member of the eight strong FISH-i Africa Task Force set up to provide a cooperative network to stop illegal fishing in this region that has long been a target for illegal operators who take advantage of the region’s low capacity to monitor and patrol their waters.
Nicholas Ntheketha, Chair of FISH-i stated, “We are delighted that Kenya is the sixth FISH-i member to become party to the PSMA. The high take up amongst our members is a clear indicator of the value we see in the PSMA as an effective tool to fight against illegal fishing. Mombasa is an important port in the FISH-i region and knowing that this will be increasingly difficult for IUU vessels to get access to is significant.”
Benedict Kiilu, Principal Fisheries Officer, Kenya welcomed the confirmation. “As fisheries officers we see real and significant value in the PSMA. Not only does it improve the sharing of information between national agencies it also offers ports, such as Mombasa, advance notification of visits by fishing vessels allowing time for due diligence checking to confirm the identity and history of the vessel and verification of authorisations and licences. We know that these procedures are the simplest and most effective means of ascertaining whether a vessel is a high risk, and therefore requires a more thorough inspection and checking.
FISH-i Africa has had considerable success in recent years in supporting regional action to identify illegal fishing operators and to coordinate action to block vessels from offloading illegal catch. Recent cases include the GREKO 1, denied access to Mombasa it was forced to port in Mogadishu where an inspection confirmed illegal fishing in Somali waters and eventually a fine was paid. FISH-i countries have united to deny port access to vessels such as the PREMIER forcing the vessel out of the region and to settle an outstanding fine with Liberia.
Sandy Davies of Stop Illegal Fishing commented “Cooperation between port States is crucial – FISH-i will be working to build links and communication with ports outside of the FISH-i region so that vessels denied access in the FISH-i region will find it more and more difficult to access ports in other regions. The PSMA makes it harder for illegal fishers to exploit differences in the laws of port States.”