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Bali Strategy to Cast a Tightened Net to Fight against IUU Fishing

Zaki Mubarok Ph.D and Dr. Effin Martiana

 

June is a special month for marine and fisheries community. The world celebrates International Day for the Fight against Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing every 5 June. World Oceans Day on June 8 followed by the Coral Triangle Day on 9 June. In conjunction with IUU fishing Day, Indonesia and the world should be proud of having adopted a Strategy to Improve the Effectiveness of the Agreement on Port States Measures to Prevent, Deter, and Eliminate IUU Fishing (Bali Strategy) during the 4th meeting of Parties of PSMA in Bali on 8-12 May 2023.

 

As the host country, Indonesia bears not easy tasks and responsibilities in adopting essential documents as a reflection of the state parties’ strong commitments to combatting IUU fishing.

 

The Agreement is perceived as another robust tool to address IUU fishing alongside other legally binding instruments such as the 1993 FAO Compliance Agreement and the 1995 United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement.

 

The last two agreements emphasize the roles of flag states to combat IUU fishing while the PSMA focuses on the port state control over fishing vessels when docking to land the catch.

 

As of May 8, 75 countries have consented to be bound by this agreement showing the highest rate of commitment of all international fisheries and ocean instruments.

 

China, Saudi Arabia, and Papua New Guinea have expressed their intention to accede the Agreement.

 

Indonesia ratified this Agreement though Presidential Regulation No. 43/2016 and enacted the Ministerial Regulation No. 39/2019 on the implementation of the PSMA and Ministerial Decree No. 52/2020 which designates five ports to instigate the agreement.

 

Compared with law enforcement at sea, port state measures are considered the most efficient and cost-effective way to fight IUU fishing, particularly for developing states.

 

In general, there are three major stages covered by this FAO PSM, before entering a port, during docking at a port and after inspections.

 

In the first stage, the port state can ban vessels from entering its port if sufficient evidence of IUU fishing activities is found. When anchored at the port, if the vessel is proven to have engaged in IUU fishing, port states are obliged to prohibit landing and transhipping as well as processing and packing of fish in addition to the other port services.

 

After the refusal, notification is delivered to the flag state, regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) and related international organizations.

This measure aims to widely disseminate information as soon as possible, so that other states can be aware of the situation and take concrete, real-time action.

 

As for the last resort, if there is convincing evidence that the vessel has engaged in IUU fishing, the vessel is banned from activities including refuelling, logistics, maintenance and dry docking.

 

Though PSMA makes it clear for port state responsibilities to combat IUUF, the roles of flag states cannot be ignored since those states possess active and passive role.

 

In the agreement, the flag states shall request the port states to inspect the vessels or take other efforts in accordance with the agreement when strong evidence shows that the vessels have engaged IUU fishing or fishing related activities supporting such fishing and are requesting to enter its port or in the port of another parties.

 

The Bali Strategy renders a tightened net to cope with the detrimental effects of IUU fishing. It promotes further and immediate efforts to tackle IUU fishing as the state of the world’s marine fish stocks has not improved. Based on the FAO’s analysis of assessed commercial fish stocks, the share of fish stocks within biologically sustainable levels decreased from 90 percent in 1974 to 68.6 percent in 2013.

 

Under this document, Parties to the Agreement are encouraged to strengthen the national policy, legal, and institutional frameworks as well as the operational mechanisms. The triangle of port states, flag states and Regional Fisheries Bodies (RFBs) constitutes the successful accomplishment of implemented agreement.

 

One clear instance was taken by one RFMO, Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) is the adoption of Resolution 10/11 on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate IUU Fishing while publishing the IUU fishing vessel list to deter vessels and banning those that have from fishing in the IOTC convention area.

 

One of the challenges faced by the agreement is the lack of response from flag states to take action against their vessels identified as engaging IUU fishing under the agreement. Under Bali Strategy, the flag states are urged to use Global Information Exchange System as a tool to record their follow up actions after the port states detect the vessels involvement in IUU fishing.

 

For Indonesia, the Bali Strategy brings opportunities to keep its promise to be a champion in combatting IUU fishing in the global arena.

 

Currently, the Indonesia Marine Affairs and Fisheries Ministry applies a quota-based policy for captured fish through the enactment of Government Regulation Number 11 Year 2023 concerning the managed fishing.

 

Through this approach, fishing zones are established and fishing quota is not open source. It should be limited to the sustainable level as ecology is the main reference to explore our marine living and non-living resources.

 

In the same vein, the Bali Strategy has the same focus and plays a pivotal role to ensure that fish taken to the port is legal, reported and regulated. The measure is imperative to ensure that the fish stock remains sustainable and the fish quota remains available.

 

For Indonesia’s fishing industry, the Bali Strategy and quota-based fishing support and ensure the availability of fish stock in the ocean for the short and long terms.

 

The PSMA and the Bali Strategy prevent and reduce the incentives of vessels engaged in IUU fishing from using ports and landing their catches as well as block the illegal fishery products from reaching national and international markets.

 

The commitment to fighting IUU fishing and promoting sustainable fisheries deserves celebration.

 

The writers hold Ph.D from the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security, University of Wollongong and Doctorate from Unversitas Indonesia. The opinion expressed is their own.

 

Teuku Heri Setiawan   19 Juni 2023   Dilihat : 900



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