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Tito Diaz, FAO subregional coordinator for for Mesoamerica. (Photo: FAO)

FAO to help combat illegal fishing in Latin America and the Caribbean

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Thursday, November 17, 2016, 01:40 (GMT + 9)

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) this week presented a cooperation project to support eleven Latin American and Caribbean countries to put an end to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

"Illegal fishing threatens not only food security and fishery resource sustainability and conservation but also the economic well-being of two million people who depend on fishing for their livelihood," explained Tito Díaz, FAO subregional coordinator for Mesoamerica.

The project, which was presented to fishing organisations of the countries of the region during a high-level meeting in Panama, will allow Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru and the Dominican Republic to take coordinated steps towards the elimination of illegal fishing, strengthening their control mechanisms and institutions in the sector.

It will also strengthen fishing monitoring, surveillance and control procedures, thus contributing to better sustainable management of fishery resources.

In addition, FAO will help these countries implement the Agreement on Port State Measures, the first binding international treaty intended to end illegal fishing, which has already been ratified by five countries in the region and entered into force this year.

According to the UN organization, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing takes away some 26 million tonnes a year, valued at approximately USD 23 billion, equivalent to approximately 15 per cent of the world’s recorded production.

While the value of global seafood exports amounted to USD 148 billion in 2014, it is estimated that the value of IUU fishing is equivalent to a figure between 7 per cent and 16 per cent of the total export amount.

In addition to the economic consequences of illegal fishing, it also has social effects, as the biomass volume reduction in the managed fishing zones endangers the livelihoods of fishermen and other players in the fishing sector, aggravating poverty.

FAO estimates that in Latin America and the Caribbean there are more than 2 million people who depend directly on fishing as a way of life.

On the other hand, the organization stresses that IUU fishing does not favour a reliable assessment of fish stocks, a key aspect considering that about 31.4 per cent of fish stocks are overexploited and 58.1 per cent are fully exploited.

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