ANALYSIS- In a move to further protect EU fisheries, the European Council, European Parliment and Danish Presidency have reached an agreement to introduce sanctions against unsustainable fishing practices, writes Lucy Towers, TheFishSite Editor.
The regulation will allow for the EU to take action against third countries involved in unsustainable practices in the management of fish resources that they share with the EU.
Actions will include trade sanctions such as restricting imports of fish into the EU and may also include restricting access to ports or a ban on the sale of fishing vessels, equipment and supplies to the accused country.
Pat the Cope Gallagher MEP said: "I am pleased that the talks between the European Parliament and the Danish Presidency have ended with agreement. I strongly believe that the agreed text will deliver both workable and effective trade sanctions, which will act as a real deterrent to countries who engage in unsustainable fishing practices now and in the future."
Many fisheries organisations are hoping that this ruling will be put into practice against Iceland and the Faroes in relation to the ongoing mackerel dispute. Iceland and the Faroes have continued to increase their catch and set quotas higher than advised, threatening the North-east Atlantic mackerel stock.
Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen's Association, said: "We have been calling for these sanction measures for a long time and we are delighted at this sanctions package."
"Hopefully these measures will make Iceland and the Faroes realise that their unsustainable fishing practices will not be tolerated by the responsible international fisheries community. It is vital that both these countries now come back to the negotiating table and reach a sensible international management arrangement for the precious mackerel stock that will ensure a sustainable future for the fishery.
Although Mr Gallagher believes the mackerel dispute was the driving force behind the decision, he stated: "I am still hopeful that the measures may never be used against Iceland and the Faroe Islands and I once again call on all four Coastal States to immediately resume talks with a view to resolving this long running dispute."
Mr Gallagher further stated: "The agreement also highlights that 'co-decision' between the European Parliament and the Council on fisheries policy does work, which is a positive sign ahead of the negotiations later this year on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy."