Five years after the first proposal for a new EU regulation to monitor fishing activities, the European Union’s institutions have finally concluded an agreement to bring about much-needed modernisation of rules to create a level-playing field for fishers. Environmental organisations, part of the EU Fisheries Control Coalition, welcome the benefits that this new Regulation will bring both to fishers and the ocean.
Steve Trent, CEO and Founder of the Environmental Justice Foundation, said: “This is a landmark moment. As the world’s largest seafood market and a global leader in the fight against illegal fishing, the EU needs a robust system to control its own fleet. This reform can prevent unscrupulous vessel owners from ‘shopping around’ to find Member States with weak controls. If the deal is approved and fully implemented, it would increase transparency, reduce hidden overfishing, and establish a more level playing field for EU fishers. It will also boost the EU’s international credibility in fighting against illegal fishing, and for a healthy and biodiverse ocean.”
Dr Antonia Leroy, Head of Ocean Policy at the WWF European Policy Office, said: “The newly agreed Fisheries Control Regulation is a good step towards efficient implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy. As the world’s largest seafood market, having improved fisheries transparency and reinforced traceability systems for all seafood products are two key steps for keeping products linked with illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing out of the EU market while supporting a level playing field for fishers and securing more sustainable seafood.”
Vera Coelho, Deputy Vice President of Oceana in Europe, said: “The vessel tracking provisions in this new regulation will enable fishers to improve their knowledge of what is happening at sea. This will allow them to be more involved in the management of the fisheries as well as improve their income and catches. Eventually, it will also make robust traceability possible for all seafood products, helping authorities to identify illegally-caught seafood, whether it comes from EU waters or is imported.”
Noor Yafai-Stroband, Europe Director of Global Policy and Institutional Partnerships at The Nature Conservancy, said: “This is a significant milestone in our collective efforts to safeguard marine biodiversity, promote transparency at sea, and enhance the resilience of commercial fisheries. After dedicated efforts spanning five years, this agreement will take advantage of new and proven technologies to bring fisheries monitoring into the 21st Century, contributing to the long-term health and prosperity of our ocean and the communities that depend on it.”
Arthur Meeus, Marine Wildlife Lawyer at ClientEarth, said: “The deal tightens checks on landings and limits tolerance on catch misreporting to help prevent overfishing. Having accurate reports on how much fish is caught is essential to assess the amount of fish left in the ocean, and set more sustainable fishing limits.This will help protect threatened fish populations, the coastal communities who depend on them, and the majority of fishers who play by the rules.”
Christine Adams, Fisheries Policy Officer at Seas At Risk, said: “The Fisheries Control Regulation is a cornerstone for the efficient implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy, and to make sure that fishing activities are sustainably managed. After five years of negotiations, this agreement comes at a time of great urgency to protect marine biodiversity and rethink our fisheries model to make it fit for the future.”
Gonçalo Carvalho, Executive Coordinator of Sciaena, said: “A strong deal has been struck, but any legislation is only as good as its implementation. Our ocean is in crisis and fishers are suffering the consequences. Action is needed now to restore it. All parties must now work together to bring this regulation into effect as swiftly as possible, as it is crucial to ensure healthy marine ecosystems, well documented fishing activities and transparent seafood supply chains. This agreement has been half a decade in the making – now it is time to make it a reality.”