Today is the International Day for the Fight Against Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, which seriously damages fish stocks & biodiversity in our oceans.
“IUU fishing contributes to the problem of overfishing. Illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing can take place without concern for the environment or the strict regulations on fishing quotas,” says the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).
Estimated to be worth €9-20 billion annually, IUU fishing threatens the sustainability of fish populations, ecosystems and the livelihoods of those who fish legitimately.
Across the globe many countries are battling with IUU fishing and in many cases it is difficult to control the situation as some governments and officials are involved in the activity itself. In other countries resources to tackle IUU fishing is limited and the nations themselves rely on outside intervention to combat such enterprises.
In the European Union, the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) along with Member States agencies patrol EU Waters in an effort to combat IUU fishing.
“Training is an important task. It helps Member States fulfil their obligations under the IUU Regulation, raising awareness and providing guidance on technical issues, allowing the exchange of experiences and establishing a network of cooperation,” says the EFCA.
The EFCA patrols EU waters in the chartered 61-metre, Lundy Sentinel, which is a EU Agency-led fisheries inspection platform that, together with other Member States assets, patrols the oceans and seas ensuring a culture of compliance where no illegal fisheries activities are allowed, both in EU and international waters
Control technologies are critical to combat IUU fishing. Good examples of this are the use of EFCA Integrated Maritime Services and shared capacities of other EU Agencies are for example Copernicus CMS & RPAS operations to enhance fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance.
Among other measures, IUU Regulation introduced a catch certification scheme for the import of non-EU fisheries products to the EU market. The EFCA provides expertise to Member States and the EU-MARE regarding the practical implementation of this traceability tool.
Amongst the projects the EFCA operates, is the EU funded PESCAO project in Western Africa aims to prevent & eliminate IUU fishing, thus contributing to better fisheries governance and food security in Western Africa.