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Europe’s Piracy Fighters : “Unpleasant – But Crucial”

The European Union is committed to combat all predatory practices in the European Community seas and globally to ensure the conservation of many species on the verge of extinction. For this purpose the EC has the Community Fisheries Control Agency, CFCA, based in Vigo, Spain.
Fish don’t have passports, they belong to us, and it’s our obligation to preserve them, it’s a common heritage”, said Harm Koster, managing director of CFCA.

“The European and world population are increasingly conscious and do not accept consuming illegally caught fish. In Europe nobody wants a dish of fish provided by the pirates”, said Koster underlining the importance of preserving fisheries as a precious food resource for mankind”.

Current world consumption of fish is in the range of 140 million tons annually, and according to FAO it will grow another 40 million in two decades. Statistics show how disperse consumption is: Chile averages 7 kilos per capita annually while Peru figures with 22 kilos, Spain 30 kilos and Japan over 50 kilos, according to FAO.

Koster admits that the role of CFCA sometimes is “unpleasant, but crucial” coordinating fisheries patrol vessels and keeping track of “pirates”.

“Many times we have to play the bad guys role.
Many vessel owners look at us as the big sheriff of the seas. Our task however tries to avoid that the unscrupulous predate European and world wide seas. We are controlling now so that future generations won’t have to feel we disappointed them.
We are enforcing the law thinking in the future” adds Koster well aware on how difficult it is to communicate the nobleness of their mission.

“It’s hard to patrol the seas and tell people: this is not right, this is illegal”.
However the “crusade” to protect endangered species needs to combine an attitude of abiding by regulations and respect for the basic concept of resources sustainability, one of the axis of the EU Common Fisheries Policy.

But Vigo’s tasks are not limited to European community waters: they also include North Atlantic Fisheries Organization (US, Canada and Greenland) among others.
“The message is that to preserve fisheries resources and avoid depletion of certain species such as cod or tuna, we must create an international culture of respect for norms”.

CFCA established in Vigo since July 2008 has among its main tasks to coordinate national efforts at EU level to limit over fishing particularly of vulnerable species, plus the normal inspection and supervision duties.

For this purpose CFCA has the so called “joint display plans” (of which six are in process this year) particularly to control and limit catches in the Northwest Atlantic fisheries.

Last June in San Sebastian, Spain, CFCA participated in the world’s second meeting for the preservation of tuna.
The first was in Kobe in 2007.
The agenda included a review of measures adopted in Kobe, a workshop on reducing the capacity of the global tuna fleet and a new accord on actions for the next two years.

According to Koster the CFCA activity with a 2009 budget of 8.1 million Euros will see a sharp increase in 2010 when amendments to the community’s new fisheries policy becomes effective.