EU Fisheries Commissioner, Maria Damanaki, speaking at the 6th International Forum on IUU fishing. (Photo: EC)
Fisheries commissioner: fight against illegal fishing brings concrete results
Friday, January 14, 2011, 15:30 (GMT + 9)
European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, attended the 6th International Forum on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing in London this week. It marked the first birthday of the European Union’s (EU) regulation to fight IUU fishing.
“[IUU] harms us on many levels: it undermines our conservation efforts; it disrupts markets with unfair competition; it chokes the circle of compliance that we so keenly try to establish; it damages law-abiding fishermen, who will thus resent and lose faith in the system. And of course it destroys fish stocks,” she stated.
Before the institution of the EU’s regulation in 2010, IUU fishing was the second largest producer of fishery products in the globe at approximately EUR 10 billion and 19 per cent of world-wide catches.
The regulation is the blueprint for the EU’s zero tolerance policy against illegal fishing.
“We ensure the traceability of every fishery product with a catch certificate. It is a guarantee for us that the fish was caught in line with international rules on conservation,” Damanaki said.
Because the Regulation mandates that all flag States take responsibility, they have to properly control their vessels and sanction them if they violate the rules.
The new rules had the following effects: Member States refused imports in 14 cases; 228 inspections of third country vessels were reported by Spain, Denmark, Portugal and the UK; an additional 4850 inspections were carried out under the Joint Deployment Plan; and 240 infringements were identified.
“This proves that our fight against illegal fishing is bringing about concrete results,” Damanaki declared. “Operators are shifting their sourcing to companies, where they are certain that they strictly comply with the rules. Due to our extensive efforts supporting third countries in implementing this Regulation, 90 of our trading partners have implemented the catch certification scheme.”
Regarding third countries with flags of convenience that chose not to notify the European Commission (EC), the EU has banned their exports.
“We can only accept a notification if the country is willing to observe internationally adopted conservation measures and if it shows that it cooperates with other countries to combat illegal activities efficiently This, after all, is the whole point of the IUU Regulation: achieving zero-tolerance for IUU activities within and outside EU waters, including for EU nationals operating in any waters, so that the EU can shut its doors to the trade of IUU fishery products,” Damanaki said.
She specified two main paths that should be followed to continue achieving positive results: international cooperation and a world-wide catch certification system, which would foster an international commitment to fight IUU fishing.
Damanaki also referred to the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which she asserted must be reformed to become “simpler, greener and more regionalized.” The result would be less bureaucracy, more regionalisation and thus greater accountability for Member States.
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By Natalia Real
Photo Courtesy of FIS Member European Commission - Fisheries and Maritime Affairs