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Fisheries: European Union and Japan join forces against illegal fishing

(11/07/2012) European Union and Japan are going to cooperate to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing - so called IUU fishing. A Joint Statement to this end will be signed today in Tokyo by Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and Akira Gunji, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan.

"Illegal fishing is a criminal activity. Europe is committed to fight it and we have been building alliances worldwide,” said Commissioner Damanaki. “Today's agreement with Japan will help us enforce the rules, and it moves us closer to clearing our seas of dishonest fishermen."

The EU and Japan rank first and second, respectively, as the world’s top seafood importers. They have now agreed that the seafood they import will not be caught illegally. Globally, IUU fishing deprives honest fishermen and coastal communities of up to $23 billion worth of seafood and seafood products annually. IUU fishing also threatens sustainability of fish stocks.

With today’s agreement the EU and Japan commit themselves to work together on the most effective tools to combat illegal fishing. As parties to regional fishery management organisations and to various international treaties, they will work towards strengthening monitoring and enforcement of management measures. They will also use the available means to prevent IUU operators from profiting from their illegal activities.

More specifically, the agreement commits its parties to:

  • Systematically exchange information on IUU activities;
  • promote, in regional fishery management organisations they belong to, management measures that strengthen control, monitoring and enforcement on vessels operating within a given areas;
  • encourage other countries to ratify and implement the Port State Measures Agreement of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s Committee on Fisheries;
  • promote the sustainable use of fisheries resources while preserving marine biodiversity.

A similar statement was signed by the EU and the United States in September last year.

The EU and Japan have already put in place a number of legal measures to combat IUU fishing, such as the EU's IUU Regulation. Both are active in international fishery management organisations and promote international instruments to address IUU fishing.

The EU is in the process of reforming its Common Fisheries Policy to make its fisheries sustainable and economically viable. There is a growing need for international cooperation, especially among major fishing and seafood-importing nations, to improve management of shared marine resources globally. This is the only way to preserve the employment in the fishing sector and make fishing profitable and sustainable. The document signed today by the European Union and Japan is an important step toward achieving these goals.

Additional Information

See also: Joint statement