Jamaica develops national strategy for tackling illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing

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Jamaica is preparing to join 59 states and one member organisation as a party to the 2009 FAO Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing.

To that end, fisheries stakeholders in the island engaged in five days of discussions towards the formulation of a national strategy and action plan for compliance with measures to combat IUU fishing in Kingston last week.

The workshop was a first step for the stakeholders to understand the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA) and discuss the requirements for its implementation. Key to the workshop was defining the measures for positioning Jamaica as a port, coastal, flag and market state to combat IUU fishing, as well as deciding how to address gaps in current legislation for alignment with international standards contained in instruments available to combat IUU fishing.

Interim Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) representative in Jamaica Juan Cheaz remarked that the workshop was an opportunity to take stock of the national initiatives to address IUU fishing, and further collaboration using the experience of FAO and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to outline the way forward.

Kenneth Blackburn, NOAA special agent, remarked that the workshop aimed to provide more in-depth understanding of the benefits of broad implementation of the PSMA, adding that the PSMA “increases the likelihood of detecting IUU fishery products from entering global trade, and ideally allows better opportunities to hold those perpetrators accountable”.

Jamaica is hoping to become another Caribbean country to accede to the PSMA, which comes on the heels of the passing of the new Fisheries Act in October 2018 which will take effect on June 1.

Andre Kong, director of the Fisheries Division, highlighted that Jamaica is working to address IUU fishing through the “enhancement of a legal regime and institutional restructuring to include the strengthening of surveillance and local enforcement”. He remarked that through regional collaboration and the support from international bodies such as FAO, Jamaica would be undertaking a multifaceted approach to dealing with IUU fishing.

Cheaz noted that Latin America and the Caribbean and the United States were strong in demonstrating their commitment to the PSMA with 15 parties so far. He stated that promoting the sustainable development of fisheries across the region was a major priority for FAO and explained that the workshop would further steer Jamaica in efforts to protect its fisheries and promote regional and international cooperation in combating IUU fishing.

Funded by the US Department of State, the workshop was organised by FAO and the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries and co-implemented with NOAA. Among the participants were members of the Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard, Maritime Authority of Jamaica, Jamaica Constabulary Force’s Marine Division, the Fisheries and Veterinary Services Divisions, the Ministries of Health and wellness, Labour and Social Security, and Foreign Affairs and Trade, Jamaica Fishermen Co-operative Union, Jamaica Customs Agency, Port Authority of Jamaica, Rainforest Seafoods, Ton-Rick Enterprise, and the National Environment and Planning Agency.

Across the world, FAO is supporting countries through training and awareness raising on the benefits of implementing this international fisheries instrument. Since its entry into force in 2016, the PSMA has gained traction across the world; the Second Meeting of the Parties to the Port State Measures Agreement will take place in Santiago, Chile from 3-6 June 2019 where further discussions will ensue regarding its implementation, mechanisms for funding and information exchange.

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