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European Commission - Press release
Fisheries: European Union and United States agree to strengthen cooperation to combat illegal fishing
Brussels/Washington, 7 September 2011 – A historic statement pledging bilateral cooperation to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, known as IUU fishing, will be signed today in Washington by Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and Dr. Jane Lubchenco, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator. This statement is the first of its kind in the longstanding partnership between the EU and the US on fisheries management.
The EU and US rank first and third, respectively, as the world’s top seafood importers (Japan second), and have agreed that the seafood they import will not be caught illegally. Globally, IUU fishing deprives legal fishermen and coastal communities of up to $23 billion of seafood and seafood products annually.
"IUU fishing is a criminal activity, and we have the duty to make everything possible to stop this practice,” said Commissioner Damanaki. “Today's agreement will do just that. By joining forces, we make it harder for culprits to get away with their dirty business."
“Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is one of the most serious threats to sustainable fishing and to marine biodiversity in the world’s oceans,” said Dr. Lubchenco, who is also under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere. “International cooperation across oceans will help us strengthen enforcement and prevent legal fishing industries from being undermined in the global marketplace by illegal fishing.”
The EU and the United States have already put in place a number of legal measures to combat IUU fishing, such as the EU's IUU Regulation and the U.S. High Seas Driftnet Fishing Moratorium Protection Act. Both participate actively in international fishery management organizations and promote international instruments to address IUU fishing.
Today’s agreement commits the EU and the U.S. to work together to adopt the most effective tools to combat illegal fishing. It commits them to continue to strengthen monitoring and enforcement of management measures in their role as parties to regional fishery management organizations and to various international treaties, and commits them to using tools that prevent IUU operators from benefiting economically from their illegal activities.
The new agreement includes a system to exchange information on IUU activities; promotes management measures at regional fishery management organizations that strengthen the control, monitoring and enforcement of vessels operation within certain areas; encourages other countries to ratify and implement the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s Committee on Fisheries’ Port State Measures Agreement; and promotes the sustainable use of fisheries resources while preserving marine biodiversity.
The EU is in the process of reforming its Common Fisheries policy designed to rebuild its fisheries, and the U.S. is turning a corner in ending overfishing and rebuilding stocks. Beyond domestic boundaries, there is increasing need for international cooperation, especially among major fishing and seafood-importing nations, to improve global fisheries management of shared marine resources and to preserve the associated employment and other economic benefits of sustainable fisheries.
The document signed today by the European Union and the United States is an important step toward achieving these goals.