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EU Commissioner Sends Interpol After IUU Fishers

The European Union’s fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki recently applauded Interpol’s initiative to set up a group that fights illegal fishing. She said international cooperation in enforcement is crucial.
Not only does illegal fishing come at a high cost to those fishermen who follow the rules, but it has severe consequences on food security, particularly in developing states, because it threatens the long-term sustainability of stocks, Damanaki said at the 8th International Forum on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing.
The EU has started to combat the problem, most notably with its decision in November 2012 to issue warnings to eight countries that have weak laws against IUU fishing. The governments of Belize, Cambodia, Fiji, Guinea, Panama, Sri Lanka, Togo and Vanuatu were warned they would be blacklisted – implying trade barriers – if their cooperation did not improve.


EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki

At the Forum, Damanaki spoke about closing in on illegal fishing:
“I understand those who urge me to do more and more quickly. My message to them is the following: After three years, the Regulation has demonstrated its structural robustness. We are, in reality, starting today to see the first tangible results as we focus on the ‘emerged’  part of the iceberg. I mean with this the most visible parts of the regime, like the listing of countries and vessels. I have to admit that enforcement in this field has been slower than I had originally hoped for. But, I will push for more high profile enforcement in the course of this year.
A lot has been done since January 2010. The catch certifications system has been put in place. This was a huge administrative challenge, both for authorities in Europe and abroad and for the industry. In addition, the cooperation with coastal States and NGOs lead to the Commission services issuing more than 80 mutual assistance messages to Member States. To put it simply: every time the Commission intervenes in this manner, Flag States tend to get their act together by imposing sanctions or educating operators for instance. This is the ‘immerged’ part of the iceberg.
Economically the EU is now moving out of the absolute danger zone. This context implies however that every Euro – or every Pound for that fact – has to be well spent. I am convinced that we can find means and ways to streamline the catch certification part of the system to increase efficiency. This may be a topic for discussion for next year's Chatham house seminar, after the reporting process has been closed.
Combined enforcement of the EU legislation by Member States and Commission cannot do the job alone. This is why I have accelerated the cooperation with our international partners. As you know, I have signed joint statements with the US authorities in 2011 and with Japan in 2012. I hope to expand this international cooperation to other forthcoming nations in the course of this year. In that context, as well as in RFMOs, the EU continues to push for ever-more ambitious solutions to eradicate IUU fishing. A world-wide catch certification system, remains, in my opinion, the best solution to ensure traceability and transparency.”