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INSEPARABLE - Eat, Buy and Sell Sustainable FishINSEPARABLE - Eat, Buy and Sell Sustainable FishINSEPARABLE - Eat, Buy and Sell Sustainable FishINSEPARABLE - Eat, Buy and Sell Sustainable Fish

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The fight against illegal fishing was a key topic of conversation at the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) last week, with FAO's Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture (COFI) celebrating the entry into force of the FAO Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA) at its meeting in Rome on 11-15 July.
On July 15, in a seminar on the status of European fish stocks and on the economic situation of European fishing fleets, the Commission will be hearing the views of the fishing sector, scientific organisations, NGOs, national administrations and other members of the public, i.e. all those concerned with the EU's fisheries legislation.

Illegal fishing: blocking access to the EU market

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Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is thriving throughout the world. According to estimates, this global commerce is worth 3 to 10 billion euros per year. As a comparison, legal landings by the EU fleet reached 6.8 billion euros in 2004.

The scope of marine poaching and its environmental, economic and social impact make it an international priority. Illegal fishing depletes world stocks and compromises the protective measures implemented to ensure their sustainability. Furthermore, by targeting the national waters of developing countries which do not have the means to patrol them effectively, illegal fishing robs these underprivileged populations of an essential food source.

In order to fight this plague, the European Commission has proposed to deprive illegal fishing of its commercial outlets in the European Union, which is the leading world importer of fishing products. This strategy would involve, in particular, widespread State-based port control, which forces each State to ensure that the fishing products they import are legal. In other words, all fish, molluscs and crustaceans (including processed products) entering the European Union will have to be certified by the flag State of the vessel which caught them. Vessels whose flag State does not certify the products on board will not be able to access European ports.