September 2, 2009

UN Treaty Cracks Down On Illegal Fishing

A band of 91 nations around the globe agreed to sign a United Nations treaty that will prevent sea vessels involved in the illegal fishing trade from entering their ports, a move that participants hope will prevent illicitly captured fish from entering markets, thus curbing the highly lucrative and widespread practice.

The treaty will usher in a slew of new regulatory measures for participant nations, such as requiring that incoming foreign fishing ships request permission to enter port in advance and report the details of their cargo to authorities.  Signatory nations will also commit themselves to undertaking regular inspections of foreign vessels.

Some of the more significant countries to sign the treaty include the United States, the European Union, Japan, Russia and Brazil.

The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) branch has praised the new international legislation as "the first ever global treaty focused specifically on the problem" of unregulated fishing.

Statistics from the International Union for Conservation of Nature show that nearly 15 percent of all fish captured in the world is done so through illegal, unregulated channels.

Before the treaty can be formally adopted at an FAO Conference in November, the document must first be vetted by the FAO's Council later this month.  Afterwards it gets the FAO's seal of approval, the finalized version of the treaty will then be submitted to each of the individual nations for further examinations and will become officially effective only after 25 of the 91 countries have signed it.

Many environmental groups say that the treaty will come just in time.

A major study released by the FAO in March showed that almost a fifth of the major commercial fishing stocks under its supervision are being overfished.  The report also mentioned that waters in the northeast Atlantic, northwest Pacific and western Indian Oceans are suffering most heavily overly-exploited fish stocks.

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