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 user 2007-04-30 at 10:39:00 am Views: 49
  • #17987

    Action urged on illegal fishing
    The government is expected to call for a system to track fish across Europe in efforts to cut down on illegal fishing.
    Minister Ben Bradshaw and Overseas Development Minister Gareth Thomas
    say it will make it harder for illegal catches to enter the EU.The
    plan, including electronic records of vessels and catches, will be
    backed by supermarkets and environmental groups at a meeting on
    Monday.The ministers will also pledge £15m to help Sierra Leone stop
    illegal fishing.Environment groups say the trade deprives poor
    countries of $9bn (£4.5bn) per year, of which about $1bn relates to
    African countries.The tracking system would help regulate fishing by
    allowing fish to be traced “from the moment they are caught to when
    they are served on a customer’s plate” – says the Department of
    Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).This would include keeping
    electronic records of vessels, skippers and fishing grounds, including
    details of catches, time at sea and onward shipping and of delivery to
    Mr Bradshaw told the BBC News website: “More than 50% of the
    world’s fish stocks are exploited to their limits, and more than 25%
    are depleted and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a
    major contributor.”The main victims are poor countries which don’t have
    the capacity to manage their fisheries.”He and Mr Thomas will tell the
    London meeting that combating IUU fishing will boost those countries’
    incomes as well as conserving fish stocks.Mr Thomas said illegal
    fishing snatched “billions of dollars” from poor people around the
    world.He added: “One way of stopping this is to have an EU wide
    tracking system that protects poor fishermen and reassures UK consumers
    that the fish they buy from the supermarket freezer or fish and chip
    shop has been caught fairly and responsibly.”Last year a major
    scientific report concluded there would be no sea fisheries left within
    50 years if current trends continued; and IUU fishing is the principal
    factor behind the decline of some species.

    Jail terms
    number of systems now exist to monitor, track and certify fish, and the
    European Union is discussing proposals which could implement such
    schemes across the region.Also on the table are stronger laws to punish
    transgressors, modelled on the US Lacey Act, which makes it illegal for
    any US citizen to engage in any aspect of trade in illegally caught
    fish. Jail terms of several years have resulted from prosecutions under
    the act.Following a recent meeting between fisheries ministers and the
    European Commission, a commission spokesman said there was
    “overwhelming support” for such measures within the EU.Within Britain
    there is also support from within the industry, with Cliff Morrison,
    chairman of the seafood group within the UK Food and Drink Federation
    (FDF), saying: “The issue of IUU fishing is at the forefront of the
    food processing industry’s agenda.”The development and implementation
    of the industry’s code of practice to counteract IUU fishing activities
    is a major step in addressing this problem.”The government believes the
    FDF’s code of practice is a model which the EU could adopt.

    No controls
    from Europe, the government and some environment groups are looking for
    ways to rein in fishing boats operating under flags of convenience.The
    2005 report Closing the Net, commissioned by the High Seas Task Force,
    found that more than 17% of the world’s fishing vessels operating in
    open waters are either registered under flags of convenience or not
    registered at all.

    There are virtually no controls on how these vessels operate.
    report noted that about 1,000 ships appeared to have no authorisation
    to fish anywhere, yet brought back catches, and asked rhetorically:
    “Where were they fishing?”Mr Bradshaw said: “The EU has responsibility,
    as do a number of countries including Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, to
    get a greater measure of control on flags of convenience.”The European
    Commission is aiming to publish its proposals on IUU fishing later this