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Speech: Intervention in the European Parliament plenary session on Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing

European Commission - SPEECH/13/519   12/06/2013

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European Commission


EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

Intervention in the European Parliament plenary session on Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing

EP Plenary Session/Strasbourg

12 June 2013

Mr President, Honourable Members, Ladies and Gentlemen,

First, I would like to thank the rapporteur, Mr Romeva, but also, more generally, the PECH Committee for their work on this important report. I am pleased by the clear support given to the proposal on alignment of the IUU Regulation to the Lisbon Treaty. Now, that the reform of the CFP is on tracks, enforcement of control and IUU policy will become my clear priority. We have to work on this together.

A lot of energy has been devoted to combat overfishing in the context of the CFP reform in the last years, and rightly so. In fact, sustainability is the red line connecting CFP reform with this file. So, the Commission has continued vigorously enforcing the existing rules in EU waters. For instance, in March of this year, we reduced the Spanish quota for mackerel by 65.000 tonnes because of overfishing. In recent years, deficiencies in the control systems have also lead to administrative enquiries and agreed action plans with Malta (2011), Spain (2012) and Latvia (May 2013).

But ladies and gentlemen, whilst we are getting our own house in order, we still import 65 % of the fish we eat [half of which comes from wild fisheries]. It is therefore essential to ensure that international conservation rules get applied not only in EU waters, but also for the wild fish we import.

[[[ In this context, the Commission has investigated more than 200 cases about vessels presumed to be involved in IUU fishing. The aim of this EU pressure is to induce the flag and/or coastal states to sanction the infringements committed. To give just one example, tenacious EU investigations lead, in a case involving 16 Korean vessels and a Panamean vessel fishing off West Africa, to global sanctions of 4.2 M€. In the light of such sanctions, these vessels will obviously not be blacklisted. However, the culture of compliance continues spreading. ]]]

My main priority here is to work at the level of countries. Over the past 3 years, the Commission has undertaken a process of identification of non-cooperating third countries. This resulted in 8 countries being given a "yellow card" in November 2012. The objective of this exercise is to bring about fundamental reform of the fisheries control systems: satellite control [VMS], inspections, laws allowing effective sanctions. During these last months, we were able to convince some countries of moving to an effective fisheries control system. In particular, Fiji, Togo, Sri Lanka and Panama have made credible progress. We continue cooperating with these countries, but not loosely. We do this within a clear dedicated framework.

For all of the 8 pre-listed countries, we are now in the process of determining the next step. The ones making credible progress will receive additional time to implement the necessary reforms and adapt their fleets. A mission is on-going in one country [Vanuatu] as we speak. The others have not been that cooperative until now. Their current attitude leaves me no choice but to start preparations for the next steps, which could entail trade measures to be adopted by the Council on proposal of the Commission.

Let me conclude by thanking again Mr Romeva and the esteemed Members of the Parliament for their support in the fight against IUU fishing. I would like to reiterate my commitment to continue delivering tangible results. I look forward to your continued support for this pioneering IUU work.

Thank you

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