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Maria Damanaki

European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

New Fisheries Control regime

Press conference

Brussels, 12 April 2011

The prime objective of my mandate is to leave fish stocks in a better condition for future generations. We have more than 72%, overfishing in the EU and we urgently need to readjust towards more sustainable policies and legislation. This is why we are now preparing a proposal for a new fisheries policy. I intend to present it in this July.

But let's face it: without proper enforcement, even the best rules for sustainable fishing can become useless. Without an effective control system, the Common Fisheries Policy is ultimately toothless.

This is why the Commission is putting a lot of effort into control, enforcement and the fight against illegal fishing.

Now, Europe is equipped with two new instruments: one single instrument for EU waters and the IUU Regulation for International waters. These rules send fishermen, stakeholders and the international community a strong signal: We are serious about protecting seas and oceans in the European Union and throughout the world.

About our waters:

  • The new system makes things much simpler: all control rules are now contained in one single text, thus making life easier for both fishermen and control authorities.

  • Moreover, the new control system covers the whole production and supply chain, from net to plate. From the fisherman's net to the consumer's dinner plate. So it makes the fish entirely traceable: wrongdoings can now be traced back to any stage of the supply chain.

  • Fishermen, other operators and Member States are all on an equal footing: we have harmonised methodologies for inspection and we have a set of sanctions that apply equally to all. And if they are repeatedly caught fishing illegally, thanks to a new point system they will end up losing their licence. We also give incentives to improve their point system position by responsible fishing.

  • From now on fisheries data are collected and tracked electronically. This will lower costs for operators. The new data will be more reliable for scientific studies and ultimately lead to better management of fisheries resources.

  • To make sure that rules are evenly applied throughout the Union, the Commission now has increased powers of verification. We can carry out independent inspections and audits in Member States. If we detect a shortcoming, we can launch an enquiry, suspend or withdraw funds, and reduce the Member State's fishing quotas. We already have done this and we have already some results.

This is the hard in the middle of the crisis but we have to give the signal that the time for responsible fishing has begun.

Control is not an issue for the EU alone. We now are implementing the regulation for illegal fisheries (IUU Regulation) at global level.

We envisage to have a close cooperation with partners like the United States and Japan in order to exchange information on third countries involved in illegal fishing (IUU). We are setting up a list of illegal vessels and will identify offending countries. We are presently reviewing more than 70 vessels from 11 third countries as well as 5 Member States. These vessels we are not going to receive subsidies any more. We have already cooperation in the Member States for this.

Recently I have sent a letter to the Chairman of the Blue Fin Tuna International Committee on the issue of suspending all blue fin tuna fisheries activities of Libya. So, I do welcome the announcement of the Libyan Representative to voluntary suspend all its blue fin tuna fishing activities.

Coming to the situation in Japan: Under this same Regulation we are asking Member States to closely monitor all imports and verify the accompanying catch certificates, which include the exact catch area and date of catch. Furthermore, we are working closely with the Japanese Fishing Authorities so as to be fully informed about all measures taken by them regarding their fishing fleets -and inform accordingly Member States.

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