Technicians from fishing institutions in Panama joined together against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUU), through the implementation of the Agreement on Port State Measures (MERP), the World Register of Fishing Vessels, transportation, refrigeration and supply, and other international instruments.
Representatives of these sectors participated in a meeting that is part of the actions to be taken in response to the commitments made by the country, to comply with the FAO Agreement (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization) on the State Port Measures.
Panama plays a "very important" role in dealing with illegal fishing "because it is a country that, in addition to receiving fish products, is characterized by providing port services that allow vessels to carry out their activities," said the regional headquarters of the FAO in the Panamanian capital.
The Fisheries and Aquaculture Officer of FAO for Latin America and the Caribbean, Alejandro Flores, highlighted that "Panama has acted and" showed its commitment with concrete actions for the implementation of the Agreement and sharing information with other countries through an Exchange Network".
The administrator of the Aquatic Resources Authority of Panama (ARAP), Zuleika Pinzón, said that the country brings together efforts to improve the action in its waters to deal with "in an integrated manner" to "this scourge that generates estimated losses in 23 billion dollars a year globally".
"Panama has taken important steps, since it has an Inter-institutional National Committee to prevent, discourage and eliminate illegal fishing and signed the Agreement on Port State Measures joining the effort of other countries to close the door to this activity," said Pinzón.
This meeting, organized by the FAO, is part of the national efforts to respond to the commitments acquired by the country on November 23, 2016, when the Instrument of Adhesion to the Agreement on Port State Measures was deposited.
In addition to the ARAP, the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP), the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the portfolios of Commerce, Health and Public Safety, as well as the Border Aeronaval and Customs Police participated in the training.
Panama became in 2016 one of the first six countries in Latin America to ratify this agreement, considered the main binding international treaty against illegal fishing.
The Treaty, ratified by more than 70 countries around the world, obliges the signatory States to inspect those suspicious vessels and to deny berthing in their ports in case of confirmation of the illegal origin of their fishing.
According to FAO estimates, illegal and unreported fishing reaches 26 million tons each year (equivalent to 15 percent of the world registered production) and moves about 23,000 million.
The MERP seeks to dissuade and eliminate IUU fishing by prohibiting the vessels that practice it from using ports to land their fish or access services to discourage these illegal operations, in addition to stopping the flow of products from this illegal activity towards the national and international markets.
Some of the usual activities of this fishing are the operation without proper authorization, the fishing of protected species, the use of illegal fishing gear, and disrespect for fishing quotas.