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91 countries agree to illegal fishing treaty

A group of 91 countries have reached an agreement on a UN-backed treaty that aims to leave those engaged in illegal fishing without a safe haven.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization, which brokered the talks, said yesterday the treaty will make it harder for illicit catches to be brought ashore and sold on the market.

This should reduce the incentive for activities such as fishing without a license, using banned gear, disregarding fishing seasons and making catches that are illegal or undersized. Such behavior can threaten endangered species and damage the legitimate fisheries industry.

Under the treaty, foreign fishing vessels wishing to dock in port will be required to request permission in advance and report on their activities and the fish they have aboard, the Rome-based agency said in a statement.

Nations can also decide to apply the new rules to their own fishing fleets.

The treaty also commits countries to regular inspections to check papers, fishing gear and ship's records that can often reveal illegal activities, FAO said.

The treaty will now have to receive final approval at the FAO Conference in November. It will then enter into force once 25 states have ratified it. Countries involved in the deal include the United States, Japan, Canada and several European nations.


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