Port State Measures to Stop Illegal Fishing

African ports are critical to the global implementation of port State measures and the success of the FAO Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA) as a global instrument to tackle illegal fishing. Stop Illegal Fishing is working closely with the FAO Global Capacity Development Programme for the PSMA to implement a capacity building project, called Port State Measures to Stop Illegal Fishing, financed by the GIZ and commissioned by the Federal Republic of Germany.

What is the Port State Measures Agreement?

The FAO Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (the PSMA) was adopted by the UN FAO Conference in 2009 and came into force in June 2016. The PSMA is the first binding international agreement designed to prevent trade in illegally caught fish. It is a significant international development in global efforts to stop illegal fishing and to strengthen fisheries management and governance.

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. Follow-up actions to be taken, settlement of disputes, and the role of the vessel’s flag state are also included in the PMSA.

However there are ways for illegal operators to circumvent these restrictions, for example by transhipping their catch at sea and receiving supplies from transport vessels. It’s therefore vital that any vessel identified as supporting illegal fishing vessels is also denied access to port.


How will African States benefit from implementing port State measures?

Information gathered in port can make costly, at-sea monitoring and control activities more targeted and effective. Full inspections, as required by the PSMA, help assess the risk that vessels have been involved in IUU fishing and then direct further action to where the risk is considered highest, saving time and resources and leading to a greater chance of successful enforcement action. The PSMA can be used to prohibit entry into port or use of port by vessels that are suspected of carrying out IUU fishing or related activities.

Led by fisheries authorities with enhanced liaison with allied authorities, the implementation of the PSMA will bring with it institutional, organisational and operational benefits that will lead to more stringent and more effective port procedures for dealing with fishing vessels to improve control of the fisheries sector.

Successful implementation will provide the necessary foundation for blue growth in the fisheries and maritime sectors.


How is the PSM-SIF initiative working?

Support through this work will focus on:

  • Reviewing national legislative frameworks for PSMA readiness.
  • Supporting national interagency cooperation.
  • Developing human and institutional capacity.
  • Building awareness of the role and value of the PSMA.
  • Developing tools and mechanisms to enable effective PSM.

Who is involved?

The PSM-SIF initiative is focussed on supporting implementation of port State Measures in Ghana, Madagascar and Mozambique, our national partners are:

  • Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Ghana
  • Ministry of Marine Resources and Fisheries, Madagascar
  • Ministry of Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries, Mozambique

Stop Illegal Fishing is working in cooperation and coordination with the FAO to develop and implement National Strategies and Action Plans to implement the PSMA and related instruments to end IUU fishing.

The PSM-SIF initiative is funded by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the Global Programme Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture Special Initiative.


Find out more about the PSM-SIF initiative, download our leaflet here:

English: Keeping Illegally caught Fish Out of Our Ports

French: Empêcher le Poisson Capturé Illégalement D’accéder aux Ports Africains

Portuguese: Manter os Portos Africanos Livres de Capturas Ilegais



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What impact are we having?

The Issues

One in four fish in Africa is caught illegally, this threatens the sustainability of fish stocks, damages the ecosystem and deprives governments of income and people of livelihoods.

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Our Approach

Creating change by informing policy and practice, our hands on experience and investigative work means we are often the first to spot new trends and find ways to challenge these.


Our Initiatives

Illegal fishing is a complex issue that requires multifaceted responses. Stop Illegal Fishing are working with a range of organisations to bring about change.

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