Landmark EJF Event to Combat Illegal Fishing
Nov 19, 2013

Landmark EJF Event to Combat Illegal Fishing

By EJF Staff

We were extremely privileged to have Maria Damanaki, the EU Fisheries Commissioner, give the keynote speech and further contributions from Gabriel Mato the President of the European Parliament Fisheries Committee, Peter Sinon the Minister of Fisheries from the Seychelles, Nkoge Bekale the Minister of Fisheries from Gabon and Carlos Dominguez the Secretary General of Fishing from Spain.

Representatives from the European Commission, European Parliament and EU Member States attended along with Ambassadors and other diplomats from Thailand, Gabon, Guinea, Mauritius, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Vanuatu, Ivory Coast, Korea and Japan. We're proud that EJF was able to bring together such an extensive group of international experts and decision-makers to discuss the next steps in combating pirate fishing.

Steve Trent, EJF’s Executive Director, welcomed the speakers and audience with his introductory speech. Referring to the event as an opportunity for governments across the globe to work together and coordinate their efforts to eliminate IUU fishing, Steve Trent spoke about live cases of illegal fishing taking place to give the immediate context to the need to bring an end to illegal fishing practices.

A new EJF film, Ending Illegal Fishing, showed footage from EJF investigations in West Africa and set the scene for the event, by showing the devastating impacts of illegal fishing on the marine environment and food security.

The keynote speech by Maria Damanaki, the European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, is available here.

The Commissioner's speech, Illegal Fishing: There is No Way Back, was a powerful reminder of the need for cooperation between governments and civil society to ensure that the EU IUU Regulation is applied effectively so that its objectives can be achieved. It was also a declaration of the need to apply enforcement rules, a call for courage and an invitation to Parliament and Member States to work together to achieve the common goal of achieving sustainable fisheries for all Europeans.

The speech delivered by the Chair of the Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament, Gabriel Mato, entitled Global Fight Against IUU Fishing, offered a timely reminder of the negative impacts of IUU fishing as well as the importance of having a transparent, holistic and internationally compliant system that ensures sustainability in fisheries whilst supporting development and fairness both internationally and within the EU. Mr. Mato highlighted the key role of the European Parliament in ensuring transparency, nurturing political commitment and fostering debate and participation towards the development of a culture of compliance and cooperation.

Minister Julien Nkoghe Bekale, having flown from the Gabon to participate in the event, spoke about the inspirational achievements of his government in the fight against IUU fishing entitled Gabon Blue Strategy Concerning Illegal,Unreported and Unregulated Fishing. Minister Bekale spoke of his country's sustained investment in research, development and surveillance know-how and technology dedicated to protect the waters of the Gabon from illegal fishing and the Gabon's collaboration with the EU to achieve that objective.

The Spanish Secretary-General for Fisheries, Mr. Carlos Dominguez, delivered a strong declaration of intent on behalf of his Government about the need to end impunity for those who put the sustainability of fisheries and the welfare of people in the sector at risk by engaging in illegal activities. Mr. Dominguez's speech, simply entitled IUU Fishing, highlighted Spain's willingness to lead the fights against IUU fishing, and called for improved coordination within the EU and between its Member States and willing coastal nations in order to achieve sustainable results. He expressed an inspirational view of the EU as an articulated collective leading by action in the pursuit of a sustainable and fair fishing sector.