Illegal fishing is a major threat to global marine resources. It depletes fish stocks, destroys marine habitats, distorts competition, puts honest fishers at an unfair disadvantage, and destroys the livelihoods of coastal communities, particularly in developing countries.
It is estimated that between 11 and 26 million tonnes of fish are caught illegally a year, corresponding to at least 15 % of the world's catches.
As the world’s largest importer of fisheries products, the EU has adopted an innovative policy to fight against illegal fishing worldwide, by not allowing fisheries products to access the EU unless they are certified as legal.
The EU IUU Regulation entered into force on 1 January 2010. It concerns EU Member States and non-EU countries alike and applies to all vessels that commercially exploit fisheries resources destined for the EU market.
Under the IUU Regulation, the EU enters into a structured process of dialogue and cooperation with the third countries that have problems meeting international IUU rules, with the aim of helping them undertake the necessary reforms (see illustration).
The IUU process explained
In this context, the EU is currently in dialogue with over 50 non-EU countries. Thanks to this cooperation, more than 30 non-EU countries have improved their systems to join the EU in fighting IUU fishing.
The IUU regulation has helped to improve EU control standards. It allows Member States to better verify and, if appropriate, refuse imports into the EU. This is reinforced by a mutual assistance system for sharing intelligence.
All EU fishing vessels are regulated by a comprehensive legal framework and an elaborate control system that applies anywhere they fish. In addition, under the IUU Regulation the EU has contributed to investigations concerning more than 200 cases of alleged IUU fishing activities involving vessels from 27 countries. As a direct consequence, sanctions against more than 50 vessels have been imposed, amounting to roughly EUR 8 million.
To find out more: http://ec.europa.eu/fisheries/cfp/illegal_fishing/info/index_en.htm