IUU: Zero tolerance campaign gets tougher

13 Apr 2011
The EU's new system for fisheries control is now fully operational. Credit: NOAA

The EU's new system for fisheries control is now fully operational. Credit: NOAA

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 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 is 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.

The new rules also bring about major simplification, as all applicable rules in the field of EU fisheries control, which were previously scattered across many different instruments, are now contained in one single text.

The rrules will also generalise the use of new technologies, which on the one hand reduce administrative costs for operators and authorities and on the other make data checks much easier, thus increasing efficiency.

The new Regulation also details the mechanisms that may be used by the Commission to ensure compliance by the Member States: increased powers for verification, independent inspections and audit, administrative enquiries, suspension or withdrawal of EU funds and reduction of quotas and fishing effort, whenever the control system of a Member State appears ineffective.

To ease implementation, the Commission grants financial assistance to Member States by co-financing certain types of projects, especially the ones focussing on new technologies.

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