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European Agenda: Tackling Illegal Fishing

EU - Representatives from the European fish processing industry association AIPCE came together on Friday at the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) hosted General Assembly in Edinburgh to discuss key issues affecting the industry, in particular the topic of Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing.

Commissioner Borg attended the meeting, along with Richard Lochhead MSP, Cabinet Secretary with responsibility for agriculture, fisheries and rural development. Other guests and presenters were from DG Mare, Defra and the Scottish Government.

The particular theme for the General Assembly this year was the effective control of IUU fishing, which is recognised as a large international issue affecting fish stocks globally. Commissioner Borg addressed this issue and the importance that he placed on its control, both within Europe and the world, and committed to arrange an EU-wide workshop on IUU prior to the regulation on the issue being finalised.

AIPCE members outlined the positive steps being taken to address IUU fishing and presentations on the topic included the work of Seafish to develop a risk management protocol for international seafood purchasing, which was then linked to the positive steps being taken to secure safe and legal fresh tuna supply chains into the UK.

At the meeting FDF and Seafish presented a risk management protocol for ensuring that only legally-imported fish is purchased, and demonstrated how this system is being trialled in the responsible supply of fresh tuna from the Pacific region.

Cliff Morrison of Foodvest and Chair of FDF’s Seafood Group, said: “FDF was pleased to host the AIPCE General Assembly in Edinburgh this year. The UK last had the opportunity to host the meeting 13 years ago in London and so this year took the opportunity to host it in Scotland. We’re delighted that Seafish part-sponsored this event and recognise the support they have provided. IUU control is a particular concern to Commissioner Borg and it’s great he has been able to attend the meeting and offer his advice and support to AIPCE.

“The EU is currently implementing regulations to control IUU fishing and its development and implementation were discussed by Defra and DG Mare at the meeting. From the AIPCE Whitefish Study, it is clear that the EU is dependent on fishery product imports to the extent of some 60% and this is true for the UK also at the national level.”

Dr Jon Harman, Development Director at Seafish, said: “Stopping the practice of Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported fishing is one of the biggest challenges facing the seafood industry in the twenty-first century. FDF has enabled us to develop our new protocol in partnership with some of the UK’s leading retailers, and the opportunity we now have to present to the EU marks a significant milestone in the industry’s work to stop this practice, which is wasteful of resources, expensive and environmentally damaging.”