Aquaculture for all

International Action To Save Fish Stocks


EU - To protect law-abiding EU fishermen and to preserve biodiversity of the world's oceans, the EU must promote international action to fight illegal fishing, including stepping up inspections at sea, closing markets to illegal seafood and imposing sanctions on negligent states, says resolution voted by Parliament on Thursday.

Because two thirds of world's oceans are beyond national jurisdiction and fish stocks and fishing fleets are highly mobile, illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing can be effectively tackled only by international cooperation, said MEPs, stressing that the EU, as the world's major fishing power, should play a key role in mobilising the international community to this end.

"The EU needs to do more to promote effective international cooperation to combat illegal fishing", said rapporteur Isabella Lövin (Greens/EFA, SE) stressing that "we need to ensure that ruthless operators cannot simply change the flag of their vessels to evade their responsibilities. With many fish stocks around the world already perilously threatened, illegal fishing could be the final straw".

An estimated 15 per cent of world catches - between 11 and 26 million tonnes a year - come from illegal fishing. Sustainable management of marine resources is impossible unless illegal fishing is tackled, says the text.

Parliament urges the Commission and Member States to press the issue in international fora and to consult major market states, such as the US, Japan and China, about developing international legal instruments, possibly under the UN auspices, to halt, prosecute and punish trade in IUU fish.

New measures should include compulsory registration of fishing vessels above 10GT (gross tonnage), development of catch-documentation schemes, compulsory use of electronic vessel monitoring systems (VMS), exchange of information on vessels activities, import controls and an agreement on closing markets to illegally caught fish.

MEPs would also like the EU to establish a register of fishing vessels authorised to fish and blacklist those that engage in illegal fishing.

The role of regional management bodies should also be strengthened.

States that fail to meet their international obligations, e.g. by ensuring that vessels that fly their flags abide by the rules, should face sanctions, says the resolution.

MEPs also asked the Commission to examine the possibility of making aid from the EU's generalised preference system conditional upon applicant countries' compliance with FAO and UN rules against IUU.

The Lövin resolution was passed with 491 votes in favour, 7 against and 24 abstentions.

MEPs also want aid from the EU's generalised preference system to be conditional upon applicant countries' compliance with FAO and UN rules against IUU.

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