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Weekly Overview: Countries Outline New Measures Against Illegal Unreported and Unregulated Fishing

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ANALYSIS - Countries around the world have taken a major step forward this past week in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing as they endorsed a set of international guidelines that will hold states more accountable for the activities of fishing vessels flying their flags, writes Lucy Towers, TheFishSite Editor.

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The FAO Voluntary Guidelines for Flag State Performance spell out a range of actions that countries can take to ensure that vessels registered under their flags do not conduct IUU fishing.

Showing its leadership in fighting IUU fishing, Spain has provided €250,000 in funding towards the creation of a Global Record of fishing vessels.

The Global Record will be a key tool in fighting IUU fishing by providing a central database of information on vessels throughout their lifespan, regardless of whether they change names, flags or identification markings, thereby driving both transparency and traceability in the global industrial fishing fleet.

Consisting of an international database of industrial fishing vessels, the Global Record will contain each vessel’s unique International Maritime Organisation (IMO) number as well as information on its ownership, flag and history.

The European Commission has also warned the Philippines and Papua New Guinea that they urgently need to address their non-compliance with international seafood traceability practices, control measures and management framework requirements to combat IUU fishing after repeated requests to comply over several years.

If the countries fail to address the issue, they will likely face a seafood trade ban into the EU.

Eszter Hidas, EU Policy Lead for WWF’s Transparent Seas Project, said: “This is not an exercise in singling out nations but rather, an exercise in enforcing effective implementation of international fishing laws and regulations. There must be consequences for those who continually avoid playing by the rules."

In response to the announcement, the Philippines Foreign Affairs spokesman, Charles Jose, said: "The Philippines, led by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is working actively to comply with EU’s requirements.”

In aquaculture news, the Australian government has unveiled a complex computer model to help finfish aquaculture expand without harming the marine ecosystems of South Australia’s Spencer Gulf.

Launched at the World Aquaculture Adelaide 2014 conference, the model simulates ocean circulation and how nutrients from aquaculture, industry and waste water affect phytoplankton, the tiny plants at the base of the marine food web.

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