According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing represents up to 26 million tonnes of fish caught annually. It occurs on the high seas and in areas within national jurisdictions, especially affecting coastal rural populations in vulnerable regions. IUU fishing may sometimes be associated with other crimes, particularly in developing countries that lack the capacity and resources for effective monitoring, control and surveillance.
FAO has recently launched a large initiative for the long-term conservation and sustainable use of living marine resources and marine ecosystems, including the combat against IUU fishing. For food security of fish products, FAO targets the traceability of fish products from the sea to the consumer through the entire value chain covering the fishing, transhipments, landing, processing, packaging, and marketing activities.
The FAO Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA) is the first binding international agreement to specifically address IUU fishing by preventing vessels engaged in IUU fishing from using ports and landing their catches. The FAO Global Record of Fishing Vessels, Refrigerated Transport Vessels and Supply Vessels (Global Record) is a phased and collaborative global initiative to make available certified data from state authorities about vessels and vessel-related activities.
Information exchange is key to implementing PSMA and other international instruments and initiatives through ICT systems, such as the PSMA Global Information Exchange System for port states’ actions, and the Global Record Information System for flag states’ actions. UN/CEFACT standards, and especially its internationally recognized reference lists, allow for the efficient submission of data by partners, and provide accuracy and consistency. For example, as an international standard to identify locations uniquely and unambiguously, the United Nations Code for Trade and Transport Locations (UN/LOCODE) is regarded as a preferred option to identify ports.
To support sustainable fisheries, UN/CEFACT has also developed the United Nations Fisheries Language for Universal Exchange (UN/FLUX), which is the first United Nations standard to collect and disseminate fishery catch data, supporting sustainable fishery management and combating IUU. This communication tool allows a standardized exchange of information about fishing data, vessel and trip identification, fishing operations, landing and sales information, license information and inspection data. The geographical coverage of this standard is global and can be used by governments, fisheries management organizations and control and enforcement authorities.
The FAO Global Record Working Group (GRWG) and the PSMA Technical Working Group on Information Exchange (TWG-IE) resumed their meetings after the COVID-19 pandemic break. At recent meetings held at the FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy, participants highlighted the importance of ensuring that all designated ports under PSMA have been attributed a UN/LOCODE, when possible.
UNECE is ready to strengthen support to make the use of UN/LOCODE compulsory to identify all the PSMA-designated ports. Furthermore, it will raise an issue to the UN/LOCODE Advisory Group for a potential solution to identify small fish ports used in the Global Record. UNECE also seeks to support real-time data exchange through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) by developing a new UN/LOCODE system. This will benefit the user community because they will no longer have to wait six months for the release of a summer or winter UN/LOCODE.