Saturday

23rd Feb 2019

Opinion

EU to go digital to fight illegal fishing

  • Paper-based system allows significant opportunity for document fraud (Photo: European Commission)

The European Union is the largest importer of seafood products in the world, representing 24 percent of the total value of world trade. This means that thousands of kilos of fish enter the European market every day.

To certify the legality of the fish, catch certificates (CC) are required to accompany seafood products imported into the EU.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

However, surprisingly in the digital era, the EU CC system is still paper-based, allowing significant opportunity for document fraud, jeopardising the traceability of products, and therefore still allowing illegal fish to be sold and consumed in European countries.

Fortunately, this outdated situation is set to change soon in the EU.

EU Commissioner for maritime Affairs and fisheries, Karmenu Vella, announced in a communication on the EU Regulation to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing that the Commission will introduce a digital system by the end of 2016.

This impressive milestone, once implemented, will mark a new era in the fight against IUU fishing, both at the EU and global level.

Indeed, the EU has been paving the way forward in the global fight against IUU fishing, and acting as a role model to other large market states with a responsibility to drive sustainable consumption of seafood worldwide.

EU flexing its muscles

In implementing the IUU Regulation, the EU has used its influence as the largest market for seafood in the world to hold exporting countries accountable for their international obligation to responsibly manage their own fisheries and fleets.

As a consequence, it has been a catalyst for positive reform in fisheries policies and management in significant fishing nations such as South Korea and the Philippines, among others.

But to go from good to excellent, the EU needed to commit and assure the digitalisation of the catch certificate system, and ensure that border control procedures are equally stringent and effective across all EU member states.

To our great satisfaction, the EC has now announced its plans to act on both of these.

In its communication, the EC rightfully announces the transition from a paper-based CC system to a centralised, EU-wide, electronic system, and the introduction of a harmonised risk analysis at border posts across the EU to improve vigilance.

In our view, these are vital steps towards the interoperability of CC processing systems among member states, closing traceability loopholes, eliminating possibility for document fraud and, ultimately, ensuring no IUU fishing products enter the EU market.

Addressing the problem of illegal fishing is quintessential to ensure a level playing field for seafood industry players that play by the rules, to improve the overall health of fish stocks, help marine ecosystems recover, boost the market for sustainable seafood products and assist with jobs and growth within the legal EU markets.

We are anxiously waiting for the European Commission to act on the commitments they have made.

Eszter Hidas is EU policy officer for WWF's illegal fishing programme

Fisheries reform: Time to draw in the net

Achieving healthy fish stocks globally was a key challenge flowing from Rio+20 and will be a central litmus test for realizing an inclusive Green economy.

Taiwan could face EU fish ban

The European Commission issued a yellow card to Taiwan, as well as to the Comoros, over illegal and unregulated fishing. A decision on a ban will be taken in 6 months.

EU overpaid for fishing rights, auditor says

According to the European Court of Auditors, fish caught by European fishermen in the South Atlantic and Indian oceans cost almost €34 million more than necessary.

News in Brief

  1. May to meet Tusk on Sunday at Arab summit
  2. Report: Russia offered Italy's Salvini €3m for EU election
  3. EU and US could 'quickly' clinch mini-trade pact
  4. Belgium to gather evidence on Syria 'foreign fighters'
  5. Dozens of Tory and Labour MPs threatening to quit over Brexit
  6. UK will struggle on free-trade deals, EU says
  7. Juncker pledges climate action alongside Swedish activist
  8. Swedbank brings in external help on money laundering revelations

What does Poland want from the EU?

We propose several changes to the EU, derived from the political philosophy behind the current Polish government, and what Poles expect from the EU - this could be seen as a manifesto Poland wants the next European Commission to tackle.

Migration and May elections - time to get facts right

If misinformation in the field of migration can bring a government down, as in the recent case of Belgium following the country's adoption of the UN migration pact, then it can doubtless produce a populist majority in the European parliament.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. Brexit and Orban in spotlight This WEEK
  2. Swedish activist urges EU to double climate goals
  3. EP budget chair seeks clarity on Saudi lobbying and College of Europe
  4. Microsoft warns EU on election hack threat
  5. Brexit talks to continue after May-Juncker meeting
  6. Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all
  7. EU commission appeals Dieselgate ruling
  8. 'No burning crisis' on migrant arrivals, EU agency says

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us