Driving Good Governance in Fisheries: How the European Union Is Tackling Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing

Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing poses a threat to fishermen who respect the rules. It threatens endangering fish stocks. And it pushes fishing communities into the margins. The numbers say it all: it is estimated that the global value of IUU fishing represents almost 10 billion euros per year. This represents 15% of the world’s reported value of catches. Over the last decade, in terms of volume, approximately one fifth of all catches came from IUU.

Sustainable oceans are at the forefront of our policy and tackling IUU fishing is one of its aspects. This is why it will be featured in the launching of my listening tour on ocean governance at The Economist World Ocean Summit on June 4th in Cascais, Portugal. The aim? To gather opinions that could inform and influence future policy decision-making, on a global scale, where the European Union (EU) wants to be a leader.

The EU is already a global leader in fishing and in fish consumption. Therefore it had the leverage to tackle action to stop IUU. That it chose to use that leverage is a great example of what makes the EU work: We introduced an IUU Regulation in 2010 to ensure that no illegally caught fish products end up on the European market. This decision was taken to improve fish stocks, ensure food security and create a fairer market for the fishermen who play by the rules. This means that big fishing countries must comply with existing international rules and obligations. And no, this does not constitute a barrier to trade. The EU imports 65% of fisheries products it consumes. This rule is about making sure that as much of that 65% as possible is sold to help build sustainable fishing communities around the world and assure European consumers.

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