Russia President signed into law the ratification of the  Port State Measures Agreement on 8 December, 2020, thus making Russia a party to the law-binding document intended to help combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) catch. A few amendments to the national legislation will follow to bring Russia’s laws in line with the agreement.

Originally adopted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 2009, the PSMA stipulates authorities at ports of entry for seafood can conduct dockside inspections, block entry to vessels known to be involved in IUU, and share information with other parties to the PSMA regarding vessels known or believed to contain IUU product.

The agreement was designed to strengthen the efforts by governments across the globe to prevent IUU fishing and close access to illegal seafood in markets, with an underlying goal of making these efforts holistic and well-structured. It also aims to increase informational exchange between the parties to expose vessels engaged in illegal activities. 

The agreement gives national officials the right to deny any vessel access to domestic ports on the suspicion of wrongdoing, and to refuse services to vessels credibly accused of having participated in IUU fishing. It sets a minimum requirement for documents from a vessel to confirm the legitimacy of its activities, including papers for cargo on board and permissions for fishing. The agreement details the process of vessel inspections. 

Russian Federal Agency for Fisheries Head Ilya Shestakov told the Federation Council – the upper chamber of the Russian Parliament – that legislative work remains so that captains of Russian ports can use their authority effectively within the agreement. Amendments must be made to the Code of Merchant Shipping to reflect new competences of the captains, and to the law on merchant seaports to give the fishing regulator the authority to establish a list of vessels detected performing IUU activities, and that it can serve as a center for information exchange with other countries. 

Over recent years, Russia has been active in cracking down on poachers who catch salmon for salmon roe. It is currently dealing with a swarm of North Korean vessels that have been illegally fishing in Russian waters.

Photo courtesy of Free Wind 2014/Shutterstock

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