Brussels, Belgium -
06/24/2008 - European Union fisheries ministers today reached agreement in principle on the European Commission's proposal for a Council Regulation to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Earlier this month, the Commission's proposal received strong endorsement from the European Parliament.
The Agriculture and Fisheries Council reached political agreement on all three controversial issues that have been debated intensely in Council working group sessions over the past six months:
- The Regulation will affect EU vessels as well as ships flying foreign flags, and cover all waters;
- A certification system will ensure that IUU fish, including processed fish products, do not enter the EU market; and
- Sanctions will be proportionate to the value of the landed catch and significantly higher for repeated offenders.
Uta Bellion, Director of the EU Marine Programme of the Pew Environment Group, said:
"We applaud the Slovenian Presidency for having been the driving force behind this agreement. The Council has taken an important step to help redress the balance in favour of those who fish honestly, thereby starting to address the real fisheries crisis. We trust the final Regulation text will be adopted by the Council without further delay and that Member States will promptly implement the measures when the regulation is in force."
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that illegal fishing represents up to 30 % of total catches in certain major fisheries and that catches of certain species could in fact amount to three times the authorised volume.