Today, June 5, is an important day for those of us who are concerned about the harmful consequences of illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.
Today, a Port State Measures Agreement to combat IUU fishing, championed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, has been jointly signed by the EU and another 29 countries. This means that the world’s first ever binding international accord specifically targeting IUU fishing will become international law. Congratulations on this significant and vital achievement.
“Y” Is This Important?
According to the FAO, IUU fishing accounts for almost 26 million tons of fish — with a value of close to USD 23 billion — per year. This illegal fishing is carried out at the expense of coastal states, including many developing countries who have a critical need for the income from legitimate fisheries.
IUU fishing also harms efforts to ensure sustainable fisheries and responsible fisheries management around the world.
The agreement will contribute to denying safe havens and access to markets for fishing vessels that don’t play by the rules.
Both Norway and the United States are among the countries that have signed on to this new agreement. For a long time the fight against IUU fisheries has been a Norwegian priority. This effort is now being stepped up through a “Fish for Development” program, launched last year and where the aim is to support developing countries in strengthening their resource management for sustainable harvesting of the sea.
Satellites are an important tool in detecting and tracking IUU fisheries. By enhancing our ability to monitor fishing activities over vast ocean areas, they can assist the Coast Guard and other enforcement authorities in detecting and locating unwanted activities.
Just as important, satellite technologies can also contribute evidence to help prosecute offenders. They ensure that illegal activities are detected and halted, and that the offenders are brought to trial.
A Norwegian company, Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT), is at the forefront of these efforts. KSAT has a uniquely positioned global network of ground stations, with the capacity to read satellite signals in the Arctic and Antarctic.
Norway and the United States cooperate on using satellite technology to combat IUU fishing. The Sea Scout initiative, announced by President Barack Obama last year, aims to mobilize and coordinate various initiatives and technologies for monitoring fisheries and fighting illegal fisheries.
I welcome further international cooperation in this area and particularly new opportunities to further strengthen the cooperation between the United States and Norway on this important issue.
Photo courtesy of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations