Speaking at the Global Seafood Expo in Brussels this week, the European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella said that there is a general need for “robust international governance” to stop illegal fishing destroying the market and threatening the environment and fishing communities.
He said that illegal fishing represents 15 per cent of the global catch.
“When this is put into context, the EU’s catch represents just five per cent of the total global catch, so illegal fishing is three times the EU’s catch,” he said.
He said that in terms of volume it is 19 per cent of the global catch – between 12 and 25 million tonnes a year.
The appeal to the international community to do more to prevent IUU fishing came in the wake of South Korea being given the all clear having been shown a “yellow card” warning them to improve their monitoring of fishing practices to stop illegal fishing and with Thailand receiving a similar initial warning about its practices.
The commissioner said that the EU was leading the way in stamping out IUU fishing and it was very ambitious in its desire for ocean governance.
“If you are concerned about eco-systems and the environment, then you must be concerned about the oceans,” he said.
However, he said that the EU could not fight the battle alone and it needs to involve other countries in the fight against illegal fishing.
He said that the EU is helping a number of countries to achieve good practice standards and it is monitoring 18 countries that are under warning.
The commissioner added that achieving good fishing standards around the world was important to the EU because it imports 68 per cent of the fish it consumes.
And he added that apart from the yellow and red card system to work with countries to change their approach, the EU is also working with the private sector, consumers and NGOs in campaigns to change fishing practices.
“It is not an EU only task, it is a global task because it is a global threat,” he said.
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