First ever joint advice by EU fisheries advisory councils makes a unanimous call for harmonising and improving implementation of the EU IUU Regulation
On 9 June 2017, a joint advice was submitted to the European Commission on behalf of the Long Distance Fleet Advisory Council (LDAC), the Markets Advisory Council (MAC) and the Mediterranean Advisory Council (MedAC), calling unanimously for the improved and harmonised implementation of the EU Regulation to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing across all EU Member States.
Advisory Councils are stakeholder-led organisations that provide the European Commission and EU countries with recommendations on fisheries management matters. The LDAC, MAC and MedAC bring together the majority of the EU distant water and Mediterranean regional fishing sectors, the EU seafood processing and importing industry, seafood trade unions, and environmental and development NGOs working on fisheries issues in the EU.
The EU IUU Regulation is an outstanding piece of legislation, contributing to the global fight against IUU fishing. It is a unique tool that enshrines market measures to control and block IUU seafood imports into the EU, measures against EU nationals involved in or benefitting from illegal fishing, and a scheme to drive positive change in fisheries governance in third countries.
As comprehensive and ambitious as the legislation is, some weak points remain that need to be addressed. The European Commission has already committed to modernising the Regulation’s paper-based catch certification scheme through the development of an EU-wide IT system and database of catch certificates. This modernisation process has the potential to address weaknesses and disparities in the implementation of seafood import controls across Member States, through the integration of a risk analysis tool to guide the verification of catch certificates, and with proactive and real-time communication amongst Member States and third countries to ensure non-compliant products are detected and blocked at the EU border.
The joint advice submitted to the European Commission by the LDAC, MAC and MedAC sets out a series of recommendations concerning the modernisation process, as well as the need for improved oversight and guidance for Member States on their import control procedures. These recommendations are being echoed in other fora – at the end of May, for example, the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee adopted an Opinion on International Ocean Governance, calling for improved implementation of the catch certificate scheme by Member States, as well as for their active support in the establishment of the EU-wide IT system.
For EJF, WWF and its partners* this joint advice – the first of its kind – shows the wide consensus among EU fisheries stakeholders on the much-needed modernisation, as well as the need for improved implementation of the EU IUU Regulation.
In such a complex area of EU common policy as fisheries, with numerous vested interests, it is a highly significant achievement that all stakeholders have been able to work together and agree unanimously on this joint position. It will, without a doubt, lead to even greater impacts of the EU IUU Regulation in the global fight against IUU fishing, if taken into account by the European Commission.
EJF, WWF and its partners* applaud the Advisory Councils for this example of how global problems can be addressed through participative solutions. We encourage the European Commission to carefully consider the advice submitted, in order to bring our IUU Regulation up to 21st century standards.
WWF and EJF are working in a coalition of non-governmental organisations to secure the harmonised and effective implementation of the European Union’s Regulation to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.