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Thursday, 14 January 2016

EC Gets Tough with IUU Fishing

The European Commission reached a significant decision this month -- motivated in part by clear evidence of European vessels illegally fishing in Liberia -- to adopt more stringent regulations that will bring transparency to the murky business of flagged vessels fishing in distant waters. “The industrial fishing community is smaller than you might think,” said Stephen Akester, fisheries management adviser to the Bank’s West Africa Regional Fisheries Program (WARFP). (...) On Dec. 10, as part of its new Common Fisheries Policy, the European Commission proposed a system to allow authorities to better monitor EU vessels outside their waters as well as international vessels in EU waters. In order to obtain permission to fish, vessels will have to comply with EU rules that include licensing and background checks concerning old violations, fines and infringements. Previously, a European vessel did not have to register within Europe before fishing in another countries’ waters or Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ). By 2017, member states will have a better understanding of who is fishing in their name in Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) around the world. The decision followed Liberia’s gathering of evidence that there was illegal fishing in its waters during the years 2011 and 2012 by ships flying regional, Asian and EU member state flags. (...)  Through new technologies, including satellite tracking of the boats’ on-board Automated Identifications System (AIS), and other vessel communication, specialists have been monitoring in real time what boats are fishing off the coast of Liberia, thanks to the WARFP resources. The monitoring by specialists can bring suspicious boat activity to the attention of the authorities, including transshipment- which occurs when fishing vessels illegally and repeatedly load their catch on to carrier vessels further out to avoid detection. IUU fishing plays a huge role in the depletion of marine fish stocks, and developing nations have long been victims of this practice. Global losses have been estimated from $10 to $23 billion a year.

Source: The World Bank