Landmark event in Brussels to encourage EU Member States to take stronger action on illegal fishing
Nov 06, 2013

Landmark event in Brussels to encourage EU Member States to take stronger action on illegal fishing

By EJF Staff

On Tuesday, the 5th of November, an event in Brussels saw some of the major players in international fisheries management coming together in a global fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) or ‘pirate’ fishing.

Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, gave the keynote speech about the EU’s active role in adopting the EU IUU Regulation to improve controls and identify offenders.

The Commissioner also praised EJF's work, which she said "allowed the Commission to launch investigations and press for appropriate measures", calling the work between EJF and the Commission "a fruitful cooperation".

Additional speeches by Gabriel Mato Adrover, Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Fisheries; the Honourable Julien Nkoghe Bekale, Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Gabon, the Honourable Peter Sinon, Minister for Natural Resources Seychelles, and Carlos Domínguez, Secretary-General for Fisheries Spain, offered further perspectives on the success of the IUU regulation to date and the impact of IUU fishing.

“IUU fishing has in effect become a true gangrene for fisheries economies and for the preservation of marine ecosystems." Minister Julien Nkoghe Beale, during his speech

Attendees included representatives from EU Member States, west African nations which suffer the highest levels of pirate fishing in the world, and even those nations who have been previously criticised for inaction against IUU fishing, including Korea. Representatives from some of the world's foremost fishing nations, such as Korea, Japan, Thailand and Spain were also in attendance.

They also offered lively debate on where responsibilities lie in taking urgent measures to tackle IUU fishing, which costs the global economy an estimated US $10 to 23.5 billion and represents between 11 and 26 million tonnes of fish.

Held at the Press Club Brussels Europe, and featuring a new short film by EJF, Ending Illegal Fishing with footage from EJF’s investigations into pirate fishing in west Africa, the event represented a unique opportunity for journalists to network with the key leaders in the fight against IUU fishing and a broad range of fisheries experts and ministers from across the world.

Key representatives from prominent industry bodies such as Frucom, Opagac and Conxemar were in attendance, as well as senior representatives from the European Commission Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, DG Mare, the European Parliament and the European Bureau for Conservation and Development. Ambassadors from the Royal Thai Embassy and the Embassies of Seychelles, Ghana, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Guinea, Gabon, Ivory Coast and Vanuatu were present, as was a delegation from the Spanish government, and MEPs Isabella Loevin and Carmen Fraga and representatives from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations were also in attendance. Diplomatic representatives from Canada, Japan and Korea also helped ensure a truly international event, led by EJF, as the most public and global call to action on IUU fishing to date.

Following EJF’s recent investigation of the Kum Woong 101 and Holland Klipper, a representative of the Korean Government informed those attending the event that the $14 million cargo of illegal fish is currently being inspected at the Korean port of Busan, with findings set to be made public.

The event was a unique opportunity for an insight into the current activities being taken to end illegal fishing and the urgent next steps required to prevent the devastation of this high value international environmental crime.