The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is collaborating with the Fisheries Administration (FiA) to deliver a training course on key aspects of the Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA), which will help Cambodia step up the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in its waters.

According to a November 21 FAO press release, the workshop will build the capacity of FiA officials, along with representatives of several protected cantonments and provincial Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries departments.

The November 21 to 24 training sessions are taking place in Koh Kong province, with a total of 20 attendees. Participants are gaining an in-depth understanding of the PSMA processes for foreign fishing vessels that intend to visit and discharge fish in Cambodia’s ports. 

This will allow them to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing across coastal provinces. The successful implementation of the PSMA will also allow the lifting of an EU IUU “red card” from the Kingdom’s ports.

Via the press release, Chin Leakena, deputy director of the FiA’s administrative department, explained that the PSMA is the first binding international agreement to specifically target IUU fishing by preventing vessels engaged in IUU fishing from using ports and landing their catches.

“It reduces the incentive of such vessels to continue to operate, while the agreement also blocks fishery products derived from IUU fishing from reaching domestic and international markets. Cambodia was assessed as non-compliant with international fisheries laws and the EU’s IUU Regulations, and awarded an EU red card. Non-EU countries with a ‘red card’ cannot export seafood to the EU,” she said.

“The effective implementation of the PSMA ultimately contributes to the long-term conservation and sustainable use of living marine resources and marine ecosystems,” she added.

The Kingdom became a party to the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate IUU Fishing in November 2019.

FiA deputy director-general Buoy Roitana said that – through the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries – the FiA is in the process of having the port of Oknha Ly Yong Phat in Koh Kong province designated as the Kingdom’s first PSMA port. It has ongoing support from the FAO.

“We are in the process of lifting the IUU red card. This requires us to follow compliance to international fishing norms, and will allow us to access international markets,” he said.

“The provisions of the PSMA also apply to non-Cambodian fishing vessels that want to enter a Cambodia port to offload or transfer fish from one vessel to another,” added FAO fisheries specialist Marcel Kroese.

He explained that to implement the PSMA, it is important to develop the capacity of government officials to strengthen monitoring, control and surveillance. 

“Through the current training, Cambodia can implement international PSMA standard operating procedures and contribute to global efforts to reduce IUU fishing,” he said.