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Thursday, 17 November 2011

Illegal fishing: EP calls for international action to save fish stocks

To protect law-abiding EU fishermen and to preserve biodiversity of the world's oceans, the EU must promote international action to fight illegal fishing, including stepping up inspections at sea, closing markets to illegal seafood and imposing sanctions on negligent states, says resolution voted by Parliament on Thursday.

Because two thirds of world's oceans are beyond national jurisdiction and fish stocks and fishing fleets are highly mobile, illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing can be effectively tackled only by international cooperation, said MEPs, stressing that the EU, as the world's major fishing power, should play a key role in mobilising the international community to this end.

"The EU needs to do more to promote effective international cooperation to combat illegal fishing", said rapporteur Isabella Lövin (Greens/EFA, SE) stressing that "we need to ensure that ruthless operators cannot simply change the flag of their vessels to evade their responsibilities. With many fish stocks around the world already perilously threatened, illegal fishing could be the final straw".

An estimated 15% of world catches - between 11 and 26 million tonnes a year - come from illegal fishing. Sustainable management of marine resources is impossible unless illegal fishing is tackled, says the text.

Parliament urges the Commission and Member States to press the issue in international fora and to consult major market states, such as the US, Japan and China, about developing international legal instruments, possibly under the UN auspices, to halt, prosecute and punish trade in IUU fish.

Source: European Parliament