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Progress on Treaty Against Fish Piracy

U.N. officials say the general outlines for an international agreement are now largely in place to control illegal fishing. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.

Everyone knows that ships are a favorite target of pirates. But another problem takes place under the sea and often gets less attention: fish piracy. The technical term is illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

Among the most common acts are fishing without permission and catching more than the limit. Other forms of fish piracy are targeting and catching protected species and using outlawed equipment. Some fishing nets, for example, trap whales. Another form of piracy is when species of caught fish and catch weights go unreported or underreported.

Illegal fishing can harm local fisheries and economies. It can also rob communities of an important food supply and endanger future populations of some kinds of fish.

Now, United Nations officials say representatives from more than sixty countries have made progress on an international agreement to control fish piracy. Five days of talks recently took place in Rome at the headquarters of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

The F.A.O. says fish piracy is difficult especially for developing countries to fight. Some countries lack good port controls. Pirates can easily land and sell their illegal catch. The problem is especially common along the west coast of Africa and in some ports in Asia and the Pacific.

F.A.O. officials say the general ideas for an international agreement or treaty are now largely in place. Final details, though, still need to be settled.

The negotiations involve what are known as port state measures. Under the proposed agreement, fishing boats would be directed to a landing port specially equipped for inspections. The crews would have to radio those ports from out at sea and request permission to land. They would also have to provide information on their activities and the fish they are carrying.

Doing this before arrival would give port officials time to try to identify suspicious activities. Countries that agree to the measures would share information. That way, port officials could deny entry to a fishing boat that has committed offenses in others waters.

And that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. Now, an update to our report two weeks ago on caterpillars eating crops in northern Liberia. The insects were feared to be armyworms. But experts have now identified them as another species that might be more easily contained. I'm Bob Doughty.