Joshua S. Reichert, managing director of the Pew Environment Group, issued this statement today in response to a historic agreement between the United States and the European Union to stop illegal fishing.
“Two of the three largest seafood importing marke
ts deciding to crackdown on the illegal fishing epidemic could represent a major turning point for the health of the oceans, communities that depend on fish and the majority of fishermen who play by the rules. This far-sighted agreement has the potential to cement the roles of the European Union and the United States as leaders in combating the serious global environmental and economic crime of illegal fishing.
“Because closing the net on pirate fishing in one area often results in criminals simply moving to another, we look forward to working with the EU and the U.S. to build a global fisheries enforcement system—the only way to truly stop these crimes on a broad scale.
“Key elements of such a system include a global registry to identify fishing vessels, a global database to collect and disseminate information about potentially illegal activity and stricter measures that require ports to prevent pirate fishermen from offloading their contraband. Countries also need to adopt laws and policies to facilitate prosecutions and stop the trade in illegally caught fish. And such a system should have a way for all nations to share and then analyze this information—essentially an Interpol for the oceans.
“We are committed to assisting these two leaders in reversing the tide of illegal fishing, which is significantly damaging many of the world's fisheries and depriving millions of people of basic food security and the ability to earn a livelihood from the sea.”