How to Stop Illegal Fishing: Denial of Port Entry and Use

Published: 31st May, 2021

How to Stop Illegal Fishing: Denial of Port Entry and Use provides enforcement officers, policy makers and decision takers with the knowledge needed to decide and take action against IUU vessels by denying port entry and port use.


It is the right and duty of a port State to identify and take measures against vessels that have been involved in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and related activities, no matter whether they occur within or beyond national waters, on the high seas or in the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of other States.

The measures are anchored in the full sovereignty which States have over their ports. The vessel owner, operator, agent, and flag State are subjected to the laws of the port State and must ensure compliance with them – and with the directions of inspectors and national officials.

These measures are highly effective in deterring IUU fishing and related activities and can be costly for the vessel owner because IUU caught fish is blocked from landing.

The 2009 Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate IUU Fishing (PSMA) sets the international minimum harmonised standards to take in relation to foreign vessels, including for port entry, inspection, and denial of port use. Parties must deny port entry and use in cases showing that the vessel has engaged in IUU fishing or related activities.

An example is the case of the South Korean flagged fishing vessel PREMIER, which having been caught fishing illegally in Liberia, attempted to relocate to the South West Indian Ocean, however a united approach stopped the vessel from fishing and from using ports to offload any catch in this region. These actions resulted in the vessel owner paying a sizeable fine to Liberia and the PREMIER sailing back to Asia to offload its catch at a reduced price.

How to Stop Illegal Fishing: Denial of Port Entry and Use explains:

  • the rights and duty of a port State to identify and take measures against vessels that have been involved in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and related activities
  • the importance of pre-authorisation checks
  • the need for sufficient proof of IUU fishing for denial of port entry
  • when entry to port for inspection is advised
  • denying port entry or port use
  • steps needed to deal with vessels claiming force majeure or distress.
Denial of port entry and use (PSMA)

Denial of port entry and use (PSMA)

A number of FISH-i Africa and Stop Illegal Fishing investigations feature denial of port entry and use:

FISH-i Africa’s First Success: The PREMIER (FISH-i Africa investigation No.1)

Rogues or Ghosts? (FISH-i Africa investigation No.11)

Dual Identity Vessel on the Run (FISH-i Africa investigation No.13)

Regional and International Cooperation Nets Illegal Vessel (FISH-i Africa investigation No.16)

Africa Unites and Illegal Fishing Industry Pays (SIF Case Study 07)

A Ghost Vessel in Somali waters: GREKO 1 (SIF Case Study 13)

The ‘How to Stop Illegal Fishing’ series

The ‘How to Stop Illegal Fishing’ series aims to improve awareness and understanding of the roles and responsibilities of different actors in stopping illegal fishing. It targets the needs of African fisheries and countries, is based on evidence and analysis, and places legality in the fisheries sector as an essential element of sustainable development. This guidance has been compiled with the help of Judith Swan and has drawn on evidence produced by the FISH-i Africa Task Force and the Stop Illegal Fishing Investigative Unit.

Previous HTSIF publications include:

How to Stop Illegal Fishing: Port States

How to Stop Illegal Fishing: Flag States

How to Stop Illegal Fishing: Stateless Vessels

Credits


Publishing of this flyer has been supported by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), through the Port State Measures to Stop Illegal Fishing (PSM-SIF) project.

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