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November 15, 2012

Europe stands against IUU fishing



Did you know that illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing accounts for 15% of catches worldwide and that this business amounts to 10 billion euros annually? If you want an order of comparison, it is as if IUU fishing was the second biggest fishing “nation” in the world after China.

In Europe, we at Oceana are used to pointing fingers at Member States and fishermen that fail to respect fishing rules and we often accuse  the Commission of not doing enough to put a stop to it. It is irrefutable that we still have a long way to go before the EU can claim any sort of victory, because spotty control and enforcement remains a major issue in EU fisheries. It is however important to remember, and to speak out about what is going on outside of our borders, where many other countries are worse at controlling what their fishing fleets are doing.

Today, the Commission took an historic step in the fight against illegal fishing, by moving beyond intent and calling out eight countries which are not doing anything (or at least not enough) to put an end to this ecological crime.

Since 2010, there has been an instrument in Europe to fight IUU fishing and prevent any illegally caught fish from entering the European market, but the last two years have been mainly about putting everything in place to implement the law and signing cooperation agreements with big fishing nations such as the US or Japan more recently.

High level conferences and nice speeches are good, but we have been waiting for action and here is it finally. The Commission should be congratulated for it.

Now these countries better get to it – they’ve been given six months to respond to the EU’s concerns. If they don’t, the Commission has threatened them with several measures, including a ban on fishery resources imports. You can bet we’ll be keeping a close eye on the Commission to make sure they don’t back down from this stand.