News :: European Commission extends deadline for Curaçao, Ghana and Korea to take steps against illegal fishing

European Commission extends deadline for Curaçao, Ghana and Korea to take steps against illegal fishing

(23/07/2014) After the European Commission had warned three countries - Curaçao, Ghana and Korea - that they were not doing enough to fight illegal fishing in November 2013, it will now grant each country an extra six months to improve the situation. The Commission will review their progress made at the end of this period.

The Commission had found a number of specific problems in the countries’ legislative set up, which came short of efficient control or deterring sanctions. The warning issued in November 2013 (IP/13/1162) did not entail any direct trade measures, but each nation was proposed a tailored action plan and six months to redress the situation. They were warned that should they fail to do so, the EU might resort to banning all fisheries imports from the countries. A similar measure was taken earlier this year for Guinea, Belize and Cambodia (IP/14/304).

Today the Commission considers that Curaçao, Ghana and Korea have all made credible progress towards complying with their obligations as flag, coastal, port or market States. They are updating their legal framework to include the fight against illegal fishing, improving their control and monitoring systems and taking a proactive role vis-à-vis international law and rules of the Regional Fisheries Management Organisations. Clearly, however, the adoption and implementation of new rules take time.

This extension is the result of collaborative work between the Commission and the countries in question. Since the warning the Commission has kept the dialogue open, offered assistance and performed thorough analysis. This is part and parcel of the EU’s relentless effort to eradicate illegal fishing worldwide.

Background

The fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is an essential component of the EU’s policy for sound ocean management. As the world's biggest fish importer, the EU has been closing off its markets to illegally caught fish.

The key instrument to do so is the 'IUU Regulation', which entered into force in 2010 and which allows access into the EU market only if fisheries products are certified as legal by the flag State of origin. The Regulation also foresees a systematic approach with third countries to improve the sustainability of fishing activities at global level, as per the EU's new Common Fisheries Policy.

Another five countries had received formal warnings in 2012: Fiji, Panama, Sri Lanka, Togo and Vanuatu (IP/12/1215). Most of these countries have since been cooperating constructively with the Commission and making significant progress in their fisheries management systems. They too obtained an extension in 2013, while the Commission assesses their performance and reserves to take action in the future in line with the provisions of the IUU Regulation.

By contrast, last March the EU adopted trade measures against Belize, Cambodia and Guinea for their lack of commitment to tackling the problem of illegal fishing (IP/14/304). Fisheries products caught by vessels from these countries can no longer be imported into the EU.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) depletes fish stocks, destroys marine habitats, distorts competition, puts honest fishers at an unfair disadvantage, and weakens coastal communities, particularly in developing countries.

The estimated global value of IUU fishing is approximately 10 billion euro per year. Between 11 and 26 million tonnes of fish are caught illegally every year, which corresponds to at least 15% of world catches.

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