Global exchange of information on compliance with national, regional, and international fisheries laws and regulations governing sustainable fishing is now possible with the launch of the Global Information Exchange System, GIES, by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN.
The GIES is the first global system of its kind that allows the sharing of information in a timely, secured and confidential manner among States, allowing them to fulfill international obligations to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
The GIES was developed by FAO at the request of Parties to the Agreement on Port State Measures, (PSMA) which agreed to its launch at their latest meeting in May 2023.
Through the GIES, Parties to the PSMA can now share information such as denials for foreign vessels to enter into or use ports, as well as reports of inspections conducted on vessels in their ports. The sharing of this information allows for the building of compliance histories of vessels and facilitates the cooperation between States to ensure that conservation and management measures are being complied with.
Accredited users from States may compile information using online forms directly within the system, or they can also choose to automatically connect their systems to the GIES. The GIES uses internationally standardized lists and codes for different systems to be able to transfer information whilst also ensuring that the majority of the data inputted can be automatically translated into the six FAO languages, facilitating the work of State authorities who may be using different languages.
The FAO Global Record of Fishing Vessels, Refrigerated Transport Vessels, and Sypply Vessels (Global Record), a tool containing flag State information, plays a key role in support of the GIES by providing users certified identity information on foreign vessels requesting access to their ports. Together, these tools facilitate the exchange of certified vessel identification, activity and compliance information, putting States in a better position to identify vessels suspected of having engaged in IUU fishing. This allows States to take any necessary action including denial of port entry or use, or to conduct inspections, and to communicate their decisions to the vessel’s flag State, other relevant States and regional fisheries management organizations, to FAO and other relevant international organizations.
The GIES was first presented by FAO to PSMA Parties in 2021 in prototype form, following which, Parties decided to share real-life data during a pilot version of the application lasting two years. Parties to the PSMA now have a secured way to exchange vessel compliance information as foreseen under the Agreement.
Alicia Mosteiro, Fisheries officer at the FAO’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Division, said that “with the launch of the operational version of the GIES, the international community now has a tool to monitor compliance with the international framework for sustainable fisheries”.
GIES was developed through funding by the Government of Iceland, which is also co-financing the system’s maintenance and operation together with the European Union.(FAO)