Madagascar is the latest country to become party to the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA). Four nations have acceded to the Agreement in early 2017; Madagascar, Senegal, Maldives and Mauritania, bringing the total number of countries who are party to the PSMA to 45.

In force since 2016 the PSMA offers a low cost means of tackling illegal fishing, as enforcement and compliance efforts are targeted on port access and port inspections rather than on expensive at sea patrols.

The PSMA sets out the minimum controls a State should use when foreign fishing vessels enter, or apply to enter one of its ports, and to verify that all fish landed are legally caught. The ‘port State’ designates which of its ports can be used by foreign vessels and follows a set of standardised procedures to decide whether to allow the vessel to enter, to inspect the vessel and to report and share the results of the inspection with other port states.

Sandy Davies of Stop Illegal Fishing commented, “The PSMA is significant as it provides a framework for inter-agency cooperation and also means that neighbouring countries will share information on the fishing vessels using their ports. We have seen through the FISH-i Africa Task Force that regional information sharing is one of the best means of stopping illegal operators getting their catch to market. We welcome the latest parties to the PSMA and are glad to see that five of the eight FISH-i members are now party to the PSMA.”

June 2017 will see the 1st meeting of the PSMA parties in Oslo, Norway. Effective implementation of the PSMA will be a main focus and establishing an effective funding mechanism to provide support for developing States to implement under ‘Article 21’ will be discussed.