Brussels, 10 June 2014
Commission warns Philippines and Papua New Guinea over insufficient action to fight illegal fishing
The European Commission continues its action to fight illegal fishing worldwide by warning the Philippines and Papua New Guinea that they risk being identified as countries it considers non-cooperative in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
Today’s decision highlights that these countries are not doing enough to fight illegal fishing. It identifies concrete shortcomings, such as lack of system of sanctions to deter IUU activities or lack of actions to address deficiencies in monitoring, controlling and surveillance of fisheries.
The decision does not, at this stage, entail any measures affecting trade. Both countries are being given a ‘yellow card’ warning and a reasonable time to respond and take measures to rectify the situation. The Commission has also proposed an action plan for each country to address the shortcomings. Should the situation not improve within six months, the EU could take further steps, which could entail trade sanctions on fisheries imports, as was done recently with Guinea, Belize and Cambodia (IP/14/304).
European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, said: “If half of the Western Pacific’s tuna is exported to the EU, we cannot ignore illegal fishing activities in this region. I urge the Philippines and Papua New Guinea to fight this practice which puts the livelihoods of fishermen at risk. In the end, sustainability of fisheries in the Pacific Ocean means sustainability here in Europe, on our plates.”
The Commission considers that the Philippines and Papua New Guinea do not currently fulfil their duties as flag, coastal, port or market State in line with international law. For instance, the countries need to amend their legal framework to combat IUU fishing, improve control and monitoring actions and take a proactive role in complying with international law rules, such as the ones agreed by Regional Fisheries Management Organisations.
The decision is a result of a thorough analysis and also takes into account each country’s level of development. The decision follows a long period of informal discussions with the countries in question since 2012. A formal procedure of dialogue with these countries to resolve the identified issues and implement the necessary action plans will now take place.
The fight against illegal fishing is part of the EU drive to ensure the sustainable use of the sea and its resources. As the world’s biggest fish importer, the EU aims at closing its markets to illegally caught fish. IUU fishing is a criminal activity which undermines the livelihood of fishing communities and depletes fish stocks. With these actions vis-à-vis third countries, the EU ensures a systematic approach in favour of the sustainability of fishing activities at both EU and global level, in coherence with the recent adoption of the EU’s new Common Fisheries Policy.
Today’s Decision is based on the EU’s ‘IUU Regulation’, which entered into force in 20101. This key instrument in the fight against illegal fishing aims at allowing access to the EU market only to fisheries products that have been certified as legal by the flag State concerned.
In March, upon proposal of the Commission the Council of Ministers adopted trade measures against Belize, Cambodia and Guinea for their lack of commitment to tackling the problem of illegal fishing (IP/14/304). Fisheries products caught by vessels from these countries are banned from being imported into the EU.
Besides the Philippines and Papua New Guinea and the three countries who are subject to the trade ban, eight other third countries have already received formal warnings under the ‘IUU Regulation’: Fiji, Panama, Sri Lanka, Togo and Vanuatu, in 2012 (IP/12/1215), and Ghana, Curaçao and South Korea, in 2013 (IP/13/1162). Most of these countries have cooperated constructively with the Commission making significant progress in their fisheries management systems in order to curb illegal fishing. They have developed new legislation and improved their monitoring, control and inspection systems.
The estimated global value of IUU fishing is approximately 10 billion euros per year, and it is said to account for 19% of the reported value of catches. Between 11 and 26 million tonnes of fish are caught illegally a year, which corresponds to at least 15% of world catches.
For further information
Press Conference by Maria Damanaki:
Website on the EU rules to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing: