What more can be done to ensure that European ships do not participate in illegal fishing activities outside the EU through the use of ‘flags of convenience’?
What can be done to prevent such European ships from participating in illegal fishing activities on the Somalian coast, and what is being done to ensure that the fish caught there do not enter the EU market?
The EU can only control the fishing activities of EU flagged fishing vessels in the context of the common fisheries policy and its implementing legislation. The EU has no responsibility for vessels flagged to third countries. The issue of possible cases of ‘abusive reflagging’ of EU fishing vessels will be addressed in the context of the forthcoming Regulation on the sustainable management of external fishing fleets for which the Commission has adopted a proposal on 10 December 2015.
However, pursuant to the IUU Regulation, European nationals supporting or engaged in IUU fishing activities under any flag are facing effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions.
The EU is concerned about the possibility of illegal fishing activities being undertaken in Somalian waters and is prepared to provide technical assistance to Somalia once the current situation is stabilised. It monitors data gathered in the framework of the Atalanta operation with the aim of identifying potential IUU offenders. This information is shared with the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission for appropriate action. Up to now, no such activities by EU vessels have been spotted.
Imports into the EU of fishery products obtained from IUU fishing are prohibited. To be imported into the EU, fisheries products must be accompanied by catch certificates validated by Flag State authorities to certify that catches were made in accordance with the applicable rules.