Brussels, Belgium -
11/14/2008 - Uta Bellion, Director of the EU Marine Programme of the Pew Environment Group, issued the following statement today in response to the European Commission's proposal for a more effective control system to strengthen and augment the current range of measures intended to limit illegal fishing in EU waters and by EU vessels.
"The Commission is proposing much needed tools to ensure better control and enforcement of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) in EU waters and beyond. Crucially, there is a clear commitment to introduce control measures in support of the CFP conservation objectives.
"We welcome the proposal to strengthen control of fisheries on land, but are concerned that this is no substitute for efficient controls at sea, which is essential to ensure that infringements and illegal fishing are detected."
The Pew Environment Group calls on the European Institutions and Member States to ensure swift adoption of an EU control and enforcement regime that entails:
- Meaningful sanctions for non-compliance;
- Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) on all fishing vessels regardless of their length;
- Independent observers and/or cameras onboard;
- Central computerised repositories for all information relating to fisheries offences and their perpetrators; and
- 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.
Also, the control proposal must be considered in conjunction with a needed substantial reduction of the capacity of EU fleets.
"Overcapacity of EU fleets constitutes a major obstacle to rational and sustainable management of fishing activities and is one of the underlying causes of illegal fishing. This must be addressed urgently, to ensure that EU fishing operations will become economically, socially and environmentally viable and to eliminate the incentive to bend or break the rules."
Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing takes many forms, including fishing without a license, misreporting of catches, fishing in closed areas or with illegal gear, and taking undersized fish. The Pew Environment Group recently commissioned research on the cost of IUU Fishing in EU Fisheries which estimated that an additional €10 billion per annum by 2020 could be earned in the EU if IUU fishing was eliminated. The report, briefing note, and Member State specific information is available at http://www.pewenvironment.eu/resources/costsofIUU.html
.Note to the Editor:
The Court of Auditors' Special Report No 7/2007 on the control, inspection and sanction systems relating to the rules on conservation of Community fisheries is available at http://eca.europa.eu/portal/pls/portal/docs/1/673627.PDF