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European Parliament Supports Steps for Transparency in Fishing Operations Outside EU Waters

Lucy Towers
07 December 2016, at 12:00am

EU - Members of the Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament have voted on the European Commissions proposal to regulate activities of the EUs fishing fleet operating outside EU waters.

The Committee has agreed on the need for new and unprecedented measures for transparency and sustainability within fisheries, including the creation of the first public register of fleet activities in third countries, international waters and Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs).

“Today, the European Parliament has made a significant step forward in ensuring high standard pioneer rules for the fishing activities of the European fleet outside EU waters, representing 28 per cent of the total EU catches. This vote from the Fisheries Committee signals a big step towards making the EU fleet the global model of what international fisheries should be: transparent, accountable, and sustainable,” explained María José Cornax, policy and advocacy director at Oceana in Europe.

Oceana congratulates the Fisheries Committee on their decision to support the creation of the first-ever public database of fishing authorisations (including IMO numbers, ownership details and potential catches).

In addition, the Committee set high standards for all individual agreements signed between EU companies and third countries, that previously allowed fishing under the radar of EU monitoring and enforcement.

The Committee members also voted to stop “abusive reflagging” or “flag hoping”, an activity where EU vessel rapidly and repeatedly leaves and comes back to the EU fleet register after changing their flag to a non-EU country.

However, an important aspect has been rejected during the negotiations, namely the requirement to only authorise fishing licences to EU vessels with a clean compliance record, hence allowing vessels that have committed a serious infringements access to non-EU waters.

The proposal will be voted at the plenary meeting of the European Parliament early next year.

Oceana is hopeful that the EU Parliament will then recognise the need for clean compliance record and will therefore reconsider its inclusion in the future regulation at the plenary meeting.