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EU zero tolerance campaign against illegal fishing gets tougher

Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

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Thursday, 14 April 2011

EU zero tolerance campaign against illegal fishing gets tougher

Getting away with fishing illegally will become much more difficult for fishermen, as the EU's new system for fisheries control is now fully operational. With the adoption of detailed rules on how to carry out controls throughout the market chain "from net to plate", the EU now has the means to break with the past and establish a real culture of compliance to stop overfishing and help make EU fisheries truly sustainable. The new system ensures traceability throughout the whole chain from the time when the fish is caught until it reaches the consumer. Member states' authorities can spot wrongdoings at any point in the market chain, and trace them back to the culprit. Inspections will be done in the same way all over Europe. Data are collected and cross-checked electronically. And once the product reaches the stores, the consumer will know it has been fished legally. If someone breaks the law, they will face equally severe sanctions wherever they are and whatever their nationality. And if they are repeatedly caught fishing illegally, thanks to a new point system they will end up losing their licence. "If we can't enforce our own rules, this undermines the credibility of the whole common fisheries policy, no matter how sound it may be. We now have a comprehensive system of control and enforcement and I expect compliance with EU fishing rules to improve from now on. We can no longer allow even a small minority of fishermen to ignore the rules, and get away with it. Apart from being unfair this also undermines conservation efforts; it disrupts markets with unfair competition; it penalises law-abiding fishermen and chokes the circle of compliance; and, most importantly, it destroys fish stocks", said Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki.

Source: European Commission