Wednesday

28th Feb 2024

EU signals 'zero tolerance' against illegal fishing

The European Union has said a new system of fisheries control is finally in place, an attempt to stamp out the illegal fishing which contributes to the fragile nature of the bloc's fish stocks.

Common inspection rules and a new points system to punish boats who fish illegally are among the key measures in the package, detailed by the European Commission in Brussels on Tuesday (12 April).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • The new rules are designed to make it harder for unscrupulous crews to land illegal catches (Photo: Irish Presidency)

Under the points system, which will enter into force on 1 January 2012, repeat offenders will see their licenses withdrawn.

Member states police their own waters under the EU's common fisheries policy, with critics saying the former system of fragmented rules was applied with varying degrees of rigour, making it harder for honest fishermen.

The commission now hopes that electronic tracking of all fisheries-related data and automatic cross-checking will make it much harder for crews to profit from illegal landings.

"If we can't enforce our own rules, this undermines the credibility of the whole common fisheries policy, no matter how sound it may be," fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki said.

"We now have a comprehensive system of control and enforcement and I expect compliance with EU fishing rules to improve from now on. We can no longer allow even a small minority of fishermen to ignore the rules, and get away with it," added the Greek politician.

The commission claims the new system will allow for control 'from net to plate', by covering all stages of the supply chain.

Roughly two-thirds of Europe's fish stocks are overfished, with species like the Mediterranean bluefin tuna on the brink of collapse. Previous reforms of the EU's common fisheries policy have failed to sufficiently align fishing capacity with stock numbers, with growing pressure to radically improve the situation during next year's overhaul.

At the same time, politicians from fishing constituencies have been loath to completely cut off the EU's roughly 140,000 fishermen, leading the Union to negotiate a number of bilateral fishing agreements with non-EU countries.

A decision on whether to renew the EU's controversial accord with Morocco is currently under discussion, with human rights groups opposing the move due to Rabat's annexation of the Western Sahara region to its south, together with its rich fishing grounds.

Rough thirty percent of fish caught by EU-flagged boats now comes from outside the bloc's waters, with the stricter implementing rules detailed on Tuesday also applying to these vessels fishing further afield.

Greenpeace welcomed the commission's announcement. "The reckless disregard for rules and scientific advice by too many officials favours companies that cheat and cut corners," said the group's EU oceans policy director Saskia Richartz.

"The Commission is right to focus on enforcement, but effective rules are just as important. The forthcoming reform of European fisheries must deliver a new rulebook that protects our oceans and ensures the sustainability of fishing." she added.

Feature

EU subsidies fuel Spain’s ravenous fleet

Decades of overfishing have left Europe’s fish stocks in peril and its fishermen in poverty. It’s an impasse paid for by EU taxpayers. Yet a proposed revision of the EU’s fishing law, hailed as sweeping reform, is rapidly losing momentum.

Angry farmers block Brussels again, urge fix to 'unfair' prices

Following weeks of demonstrations across Europe, farmers returned to Brussels to protest over unfair competition in prices, as EU agriculture ministers met just a few metres away to discuss a response. The police used water cannon and tear gas.

EU's €723bn Covid recovery fund saw growth, but doubts remain

The €723bn Covid-19 recovery fund, launched three years ago, has been a success, according to a mid-term internal review — but less effective than initially predicted. And according to one NGO, the commission painted an "overly positive picture".

Angry farmers block Brussels again, urge fix to 'unfair' prices

Following weeks of demonstrations across Europe, farmers returned to Brussels to protest over unfair competition in prices, as EU agriculture ministers met just a few metres away to discuss a response. The police used water cannon and tear gas.

Latest News

  1. Joined-up EU defence procurement on the horizon?
  2. Macron on Western boots in Ukraine: What he really meant
  3. Amazon lobbyists banned from EU Parliament
  4. MEPs adopt new transparency rules for political ads
  5. EU nature restoration law approved after massive backlash
  6. Memo from Munich — EU needs to reinvent democracy support
  7. For Ukraine's sake, pass the EU due diligence directive
  8. All of Orbán's MPs back Sweden's Nato entry

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us