Call for the GFCM Compliance Committee to increase transparency and effectively tackle non-compliance cases and IUU fishing - Oceana Europe

Report | April 20, 2023

Call for the GFCM Compliance Committee to increase transparency and effectively tackle non-compliance cases and IUU fishing

Ahead of the sixteenth session of the Compliance Committee (CoC) of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) in Rhodes, Greece, Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation, ClientEarth, Environmental Justice Foundation, MedReAct, Oceana, Pew Charitable Trust and WWF, who work together to protect the Mediterranean Sea against the impacts of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, are calling on the GFCM to take ambitious measures to tackle IUU fishing and all cases of non-compliance, and to act on evidence of such activities with deterrent sanctions. This is a prerequisite for ensuring the survival of Mediterranean unique biodiversity and the communities that rely on marine resources.

Proper implementation of and compliance with GFCM recommendations is crucial to rebuild fish stocks in the Mediterranean and Black Seas to sustainable levels, as 73% of Mediterranean fish populations remain subject to overfishing.

For the GFCM Compliance Committee (CoC) Meeting in Rhodes Greece, we call the GFCM to:

  • Take effective action against cases of non-compliance by adopting dissuasive sanctions in case of continued non-compliance, as required under part II.6 of Resolution 44/2021/13 at the upcoming Compliance Committee in Rhodes.

Establishing a framework that will allow the GFCM to intervene, in a proportional manner, in order to address cases of serious or repeated non-compliance is essential. This process must be strengthened by giving GFCM the means to effectively investigate and take appropriate follow-up actions.
As highlighted in the 2017 OECD report on IUU fishing,1 RFMO deterrence mechanisms should include the establishment of well-defined deterrent sanctions based on the gravity and recurrence of cases of non-compliance.

We therefore welcome the decision by the Compliance Committee in 2022 for GFCM to “liaise to the maximum extent possible with other RFMOs’ Secretariats and report to the CoC and the Commission on their practices regarding actions against non-compliance with a view to adopt an annex containing these measures related to the relevant category and gravity of non-compliance”.

We further welcome that the 2022-2024 Compliance Committee work plan clearly includes the creation of the annex and we urge the GFCM to fulfil this commitment, strengthen the mandate of the Compliance Committee and adopt a complete set of dissuasive sanctions for non-compliant CPCs. Such robust sanctions should include non-discriminatory market and trade-related measures or reduced fishing opportunities for repeat offenders…

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