Recommendation 1: International – Port State Measures

Work with Congress to pass implementing legislation for the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA). Direct the Secretary of State to promote entry into force and full implementation of the PSMA.


The absence of binding multilateral port State measures has hindered the process of addressing IUU fishing. With the United States as a driving force, the FAO adopted the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate IUU Fishing (PSMA). The PSMA envisages that Parties, in their capacities as port States, will take a series of steps to ensure that foreign vessels do not land or transship IUU seafood in their ports, thus preventing such seafood products from entering markets. Among other things, the PSMA requires Parties to: designate ports to which foreign vessels may request entry and to require such vessels seeking port entry to provide advance notice with detailed information relevant to their fishing activities and fish on board; inspect an appropriate number of foreign vessels that have entered their ports to determine whether the vessels were engaged in or supported IUU fishing; and cooperate with port States in the implementation of PSMA with respect to their flagged vessels. The PSMA requires 25 ratifications to enter into force; to date there are 11 with 14 more required. In the United States, the Senate provided advice and consent to join the Agreement in 2014, but ratification is pending the passage of implementing legislation in Congress. U.S. ratification will help ensure consumer confidence in the seafood supply chain by helping keep illegal product out of the market. It will demonstrate strong leadership in the global battle against IUU fishing and encourage broad ratification of the PSMA by other countries. Global implementation of robust port State controls on port access will disrupt IUU fishing vessel operations by decreasing the ports where IUU fishing products can be landed and increasing the costs associated with IUU fishing.

Implementation Steps

Lead agencies: NOAA and the Department of State 

The implementation plan for this recommendation is comprised of two components: a domestic agenda and an international agenda. Specific implementation steps include:
  • Continue to work with Congress to support timely adoption of legislation necessary for ratification and effective implementation of the PSMA.
  • By July 2015, facilitate briefings for key Congressional Committees, Members, Caucuses, and staff with agency leadership and stakeholders, to highlight linkages between the PSMA and efforts to combat IUU fishing, and the benefits of entry in force and robust implementation of the PSMA globally to domestic fishing interests. Keep these efforts going through the remainder of 2015 and beyond as needed. 
  • Use existing fora such as Capitol Hill Oceans Week in June 2015 to continue to discuss the PSMA and its benefits with Congressional members, staff, and constituents. 
  • Through direct diplomatic outreach, identify at least 14 countries that are supportive of the PSMA and work with them to ratify the Agreement as soon as possible and ideally by the end of 2015. Continue to advocate for speedy entry into force and broad implementation of the Agreement in international fora such as regional fishery management organizations (RFMOs), the United Nations, and FAO’s Committee on Fisheries. 
  • Identify impediments to ratification of the PSMA by foreign partners and provide information and assistance to help overcome those obstacles as feasible and appropriate.
  • Continue efforts to support, and provide technical assistance to, developing countries seeking to ratify and implement the PSMA. 
  • Ensure that the PSMA remains a top priority for senior officials’ dialogues with foreign State representatives.

Jawaharlal Nehru Trust Port in Navi Mumbai, India. Photo Credit: Jaxer (CC BY 3.0)

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