Pew Environment Group Commends EU Fisheries Ministers' Move to End Pirate Fishing

Contact: Mike Walker, +32 (0)476 622575


Brussels, Belgium - 09/29/2008 - European Union fisheries ministers today adopted a regulation to prevent illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing. The Agriculture and Fisheries Council agreed upon a range of measures, such as the setting up of a new certification system to help prevent IUU fish, including processed fish products, from entering the EU market.

"We commend the Council for taking this first step in tackling the scourge that is illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing,” said Uta Bellion, director of the EU Marine Programme of the Pew Environment Group. “However, given that 40 percent of key fishing in EU waters is estimated to be IUU, we expect the Commission to propose and the Council to support a strong upcoming proposal for an EU Control and Enforcement Regulation.”

The Pew Environment Group proposes that the revised control and enforcement regime include:

  1. Meaningful sanctions for non-compliance;
  2. A requirement to set up central computerised repositories for all information relating to fisheries offences and their perpetrators including automatic and systematic cross-checks between data; and
  3. The suspension of community aid to the fisheries sector, including the granting of fishing rights under Fisheries Partnership Agreements if a Member State fails to respect its control obligations.
Furthermore, a substantial reduction in fishing capacity of the EU fleet is urgently needed.

“The existing overcapacity of fishing vessels in the EU and reluctance by Member States to adapt the size of their fleets to match the available fishing opportunities is a principal driver of IUU fishing. This inevitably leads to unprofitable fishing operations and greater incentives to bend or break the rules,” Ms. Bellion added.

Note to the Editor:

The following fisheries have significant percentages of IUU fishing:

  1. Mediterranean and East Atlantic Bluefin Tuna: 40 percent – Report of the Standing Committee on Research and Statistics (SCRS).  Madrid, October 1st – 5th ICCAT (2007)
  2. Baltic Cod: 35-40 percent – ICES Baltic Fisheries Assessment Working Group estimates EEA (2008)
  3. UK Cod: 50 percent – half the cod landed in the UK is misreported - IUU Fishing on the High Seas: Impacts on Ecosystems and Future Science Needs. Marine Resources Assessment Group, London, UK MRAG (2005)

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