United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Supporting the revision and adoption of national legislation to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations – Development Law Service (
United Nations / Multilateral body

    Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing remains one of the greatest threats to marine ecosystems due to its potent ability to undermine efforts to manage fisheries sustainably as well as endeavours to conserve marine biodiversity. IUU exploits weak management regimes, in particular of countries lacking the capacity and resources for effective monitoring, control, and surveillance. Fisheries resources available to bona fide fishers are removed by IUU fishing, which can lead to the collapse of local fisheries, with small-scale fisheries in developing countries proving particularly vulnerable. IUU fishing threatens livelihoods, exacerbates poverty, and augments food insecurity.

    Implementation of the Project/Activity

    The Development Law Service is part of the FAO team providing technical assistance to countries to implement the measures of the Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA) to combat IUU fishing. In Ecuador, FAO supported authorities in the drafting of an Inter-agency Decree that seeks the effective implementation of the PSMA in accordance with the responsibilities of the different institutions involved. The Decree establishes clear roles to fisheries, maritime, port and customs authorities as well as procedures to ensure an effective fight against IUU fishing. Ecuador approved the Port State Measures Agreement through a Legislative Resolution in 2018 and a new revised law on fisheries and aquaculture, that deals with IUU fishing, in 2020. In the case of Peru, FAO provided technical assistance on risk analysis and inspection procedures for foreign-fishing vessels, supporting the country in improving its existing fisheries monitoring, control, and surveillance (MCS) systems and procedures. This was a follow up to a previous assistance in the drafting of an interagency coordination decree to implement mechanisms to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing. In a mission to Peru, FAO also supported national authorities in the identification potential ports to be designated for foreign vessels used for fishing or in support of fishing activities, as well as identify the need for any further specialized training. Peru approved the PSMA through Legislative Resolution Nº 30.591 in 2017.


    The adoption of the PSMA in both countries strengthens international cooperation to effectively combat IUU fishing as well as increases knowledge on specific aspects of IUU fishing, directly supporting the ability of States and organizations to implement the Agreement by enhancing their policy, legal, institutional and operational frameworks. This directly leads to achieving SDG 14.6.1

    Enabling factors and constraints

    The missions undertaken by FAO multidisciplinary teams to the countries to meet with national fisheries authorities, develop capacity building activities - such as national workshops on the PSMA-, conduct national stakeholder consultations, and review the fisheries legal framework to comply with the PSMA were key to achieve the final accession to the PSMA by Ecuador and Peru.

    Sustainability and replicability

    The PSMA relies on international cooperation to be fully successful. Therefore, the adoption of the Agreement by more countries of the region is helping in establishing a shield in the coasts areas of Latin American and Caribbean countries to combat IUU fishing by preventing vessels engaged in IUU fishing from using ports and landing their catches. This reduces the incentives and blocks fishery products derived from IUU fishing from reaching markets. Currently countries such as Jamaica and Surinam are carrying out the necessary preparations in order to become Parties to the Agreement

    Other sources of information

    Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing http://www.fao.org/3/i5469t/I5469T.pdf FAO. 2020. Regional Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing in WECAFC Member Countries (2019-2029). Rome, FAO. http://www.fao.org/documents/card/en/c/ca9457t FAO. Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. http://www.fao.org/iuu-fishing/en/

    COVID-19 Impact

    FAO continues supporting countries in the combat of IUU fishing. However, given the current travel limitations due to Covid-19, workshops that the FAO multidisciplinary team had scheduled for 2020 had to be postponed. In order to prepare for when in-country assistance can be provided, FAO experts are carrying out virtual workshops with countries such as Suriname, bringing together representatives from different, relevant agencies both physically in the country and through the use of technology.

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    This initiative does not yet fulfil the SMART criteria.
    04 January 2016 (start date)
    31 December 2020 (date of completion)
    Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations – Development Law Service
    Other beneficiaries

    To achieve the adoption of the PSMA in Ecuador and Peru, technical assistance was provided by FAO to authorities of the Ministries of Fisheries of each country. National capacity building activities with relevant stakeholders were carried out by FAO on how to implement the treaty’s provisions, particularly the monitoring, control, and surveillance (MCS) systems and procedures.

    Contact Information

    BLAISE, Chief - Development Law Service