Pew Calls for Stricter Controls to Combat Illegal Fishing and Reduce Overcapacity in the European Fishing Fleet

Pew Calls for Stricter Controls to Combat Illegal Fishing and Reduce Overcapacity in the European Fishing Fleet

Today a workshop in Madrid organised by the Pew Environment Group highlighted the urgent need to strengthen fisheries control in order to combat frequent illegal fishing by the EU fleet, including Spain's.

According to a report by the European Commission, Spain committed the second highest number of serious infringements in the EU in 2006, after Italy. The dismal state of fish stocks in European waters, aggravated by EU fleet overcapacity, is resulting in more and more infringements. Illegal fishing is often tolerated by Member states, including Spain, and compounded by weak sanctions.

“Inspection remains the single greatest challenge for Spanish fisheries,” said Rémi Parmentier, adviser to the Pew Environment Group. “In the port of Vigo, for example, there are just six official inspectors responsible for controlling the landing of more than 880,000 tons of fish every year.”

In November 2008, the European Commission presented a proposal to strengthen measures intended to combat illegal fishing and fully enforce the Common Fisheries Policy. This proposal is expected to be adopted in the second half of 2009, but in order to be effective it must be accompanied by a substantial reduction in the capacity of EU fleets.

“Overcapacity of the EU fleet constitutes a major obstacle to rational and sustainable management of fishing activities and is one of the underlying causes of illegal fishing,” said Parmentier. “This must be addressed urgently to ensure that EU fishing becomes economically, socially and environmentally viable and to eliminate the incentive to bend or break the rules.”

The purpose of the Madrid workshop is to bring together key stakeholders to discuss how a stronger control regime could remedy the problems that illegal fishing creates for responsible fisheries management and marine conservation. This is the second in a series of three workshops being held by the Pew Environment Group. The final workshop will be in Genoa on April 18th.

Notes to the Editor:

1. Pew's report “Los Costes de la Pesca Illegal, no Declarada y No Regulada (IUU) para la UE” is available in Spanish at: (PDF)

2. On November 4th 2008 the European Commission published a Communication summarising the reports from Member States on behaviours which seriously infringed on the rule of the Common Fisheries Policy in 2006 (COM(2008) 670), available at: (PDF)

The Pew Environment Group's European Marine Programme supports the European Union in ending global overfishing and reducing destruction of the world´s oceans.