The main objective of the EU’s Regulation to end IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing is to prevent, deter and eliminate trade of fisheries products originating from IUU fishing activity and stop them from entering every year our EU markets. The IUU Regulation is the most ambitious law to fight IUU fishing globally and this year we celebrate the 10th anniversary since its adoption.
The new report published today by environmental NGOs (EJF, Oceana, Pew and WWF) looked into the impact of the IUU Regulation on seafood trade flows from third countries to the EU and disparities in the implementation of import controls across Member States.
Some of the trade anomalies and shifts identified in the report occurred in the Netherlands.
The Netherlands is a major importer of processed tuna from Thailand, a country that was given a yellow card warning by the EU in 2015. Between 2015-2016, the Netherlands’ share of total EU imports of processed tuna from Thailand went up to 12%, compared to 4-8% in the previous 10 years. In 2016, the Netherlands imported around 620 tonnes of prepared tuna loins from Thailand, exceeding the previous peak of 85 tonnes in 2015.
During the same 2015-2016 period there was an increase in intra-EU trade in processed tuna from the Netherlands to the rest of the EU, including to Germany and Spain. The analysis of intra-EU trade data is a useful way to determine whether the importing Member State was the likely destination market for the products concerned.
These findings are indicative of the Netherlands’ role as a transit country through which high-risk fish products could enter the rest of the EU. In the example above, as the Netherlands does not have a canning industry, it is very likely that the prepared tuna loins from Thailand were destined for further processing in other EU countries.
As home to the EU’s largest container port, the Netherlands has a vital role to play in ensuring fisheries imports are effectively scrutinized and that products stemming from IUU fishing are blocked from the EU market.
All Member States should introduce strong and effective import controls at their borders; if just one country becomes an easy access for high risk products, consumers from any European country may be unknowingly buying products that could originate from an illegal source.