FAO Agreement on Port State Measures

The Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA) entered into force on 5 June 2016.  The PSMA is the first binding international agreement to target illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

The PSMAs objective is to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing by preventing vessels engaged in IUU fishing from using ports and landing their catches. In this way, the PSMA reduces the incentive of such vessels to continue to operate while it also blocks fishery products derived from IUU fishing from reaching national and international markets.

Australia is one of more than 60 Parties to ratify the agreement. A complete list of Parties can be found at Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA).

Australia signed the Agreement on 27 April 2010 and ratified the agreement on 20 July 2015.

Key measures

There are important requirements that we must meet under the PSMA.

Designated ports

We must designate ports that foreign-flagged fishing vessels can access.

Operators of these vessels must:

  • request permission for port access ahead of arrival
  • transmit information on their activities and the fish they have on board.

This will give our port authorities an opportunity to identify vessels of potential concern.

Access to ports

Foreign vessels that have engaged in or supported IUU fishing must be denied:

  • port access (landing, transhipping and processing of fish)
  • port services (refuelling, resupplying and repair).

‘Vessels’ includes both fishing vessels and support vessels (such as supply and freezer vessels).

This applies to foreign-flagged vessels. Port authorities must also ensure that equally effective measures are in place  for Australian vessels.


Port authorities must conduct regular inspections of vessels accessing their ports.

The PSMA outlines standards for these inspections, to check for evidence of IUU fishing. This includes:

  • reviews of ship papers
  • surveys of fishing gear
  • examining catches
  • checking a ship's records.

Ports and inspectors must be adequately equipped and trained.

All vessels may be subject to inspection by port authorities under the PSMA. We are required to respond to any inspection reports that a vessel flying our flag has engaged in IUU fishing.

Information sharing

The PSMA calls for the creation of an information-sharing mechanism. This has taken the form of the Global Record of Fishing Vessels, Refrigerated Transport Vessels and Supply Vessels (Global Record). The Global Record will enable countries to make available, in a rapid way, certified data from State authorities about vessels and vessel-related activities associated with IUU fishing. It also contains provisions to help developing countries meet their obligations under the Agreement.

Responsible authority

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), as the Commonwealth fisheries regulator, implements the PSMA as part of Australia’s port State controls. This includes:

  • providing port access permits
  • inspecting foreign fishing vessels entering Australian ports.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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