In 2016 the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the Government of Sri Lanka agreed to a project focussed on capacity building to combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing (IUU fishing). IUU fishing contributes to overfishing and the depletion of fish stocks, undermines sustainable fisheries management, distorts market competition, and it is frequently associated with national and transnational organised criminal activities. Estimates of the global cost of IUU fishing are between $10-$23.5 billion annually, with developing States being the most susceptible.
The FAO has been engaged in combating IUU fishing at all levels. In fact, it was through an FAO instrument that the term ‘IUU fishing’ was coined. At the international level, the FAO is the main UN organisation through which States have worked to adopt various instruments to combat IUU fishing, including the Compliance Agreement, the International Plan of Action to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing, the Voluntary Guidelines on Flag State performance, the recently approved Guidelines on Catch Documentation Schemes, and the 2009 FAO Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate IUU Fishing (commonly referred to as the PSMA).
In order to enhance the awareness of authorised officers on the above, training has been arranged by the FAO and the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DFAR) which is being held from 21-25 August in Wattala.
Dr. Dharmassree Wijeratne, Assistant FAO Representative (program), addressed the gathering stating, “In all jurisdictions, authorised officers are at the forefront of the fight against IUU fishing. Therefore they must be conversant with the law and the pathways available to effective deter IUU fishers. I encourage you to participate actively in this training and to make good use of the resource persons, the information provided, and the various activities planned this week.”
Marcus, Acting Director (Management), DFAR also conveyed the DFAR Director General’s support and encouragement for this training.
Pio Manoa, a legal officer from FAO Headquarters (Rome) will be taking forth this week’s training on issues and concepts of IUU fishing, along with the assistance of Broussard from the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime and Vikum Abrew, a senior member of the Bar, who will also lead through the national laws and procedures, and will preside over a moot court session on Friday.
A total of 32 participants are currently attending this training which consist of fisheries experts in the DFAR, Commanders and Lieutenants from the Coast Guard and the Sri Lanka Navy. By the end of this week’s training the FAO and the DFAR hope to have enhanced the participants knowledge and understanding on the framework under international law to combat IUU fishing, national laws and procedures, and gain the necessary skills to achieve successful prosecution.