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Landmark Event Encourages EU Member States to Take Stronger Action on Illegal Fishing

04 November 2013

EU - The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) is hosting an event in Brussels on Tuesday 5 November which will see 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, will give the keynote speech about the EU’s active role in adopting the EU IUU Regulation to improve controls and identify offenders.

Additional speeches by Gabriel Mato Adrover, Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Fisheries; Julien Nkoghe Bekale, Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Gabon, and Peter Sinon, Minister for Natural Resources Seychelles, will offer further perspectives on the success of the IUU regulation to date and the impact of IUU fishing.

Representatives will attend 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 are expected to attend.

The event promises to offer a 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 will be 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 Government, Industry and NGOs will attend, including FRUCOM, the representative of European processed food (including seafood) traders, and various industry associations that are highly representative of the Spanish industrial fishing sector, such as ANFACO-CECOPESCA representing seafood processors and canners, ANABAC, the national Association of Tuna Freezer Vessels’ Shipowners and OPAGAC, Associate Producers of Big Tuna Freezer Vessels.

Influencers from the European Commission Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, DG Mare, the US Department of State, Canadian Mission to the EU, Sri Lanka Mission to the EU, Royal Thai Embassy, Embassy of Ghana, Embassy of Guinea, Embassy of Gabon, Embassy of Ivory Coast, Embassy of Liberia, Embassy of South Africa, Embassy of Benin and Direccion General de Pesca are among the confirmed attendees, as well as representatives from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Additional representatives from Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands, Lithuania, Romania, Canada, will ensure this is 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, and the cargo of $14 million of illegal fish which is expected to successfully arrive at the Korean port of Busan today (press release attached), it may be particularly interesting that the Dutch Food & Drugs authority and Korea Mission to the EU will also be attending the event.

Further, the presence of representatives from the Royal Thai Embassy is likely to create interest, given the ongoing talks between the European Commission and Thailand to relax trade tariff on products that include processed fish. EJF has recently highlighted Thailand's poor record in guaranteeing a minimum amount of protection from abuse and event trafficking for workers in the fisheries sector, a factor that has not escaped European Member states concerned about the possible effects of a tariff removal on Thai products.

The event is 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.

Steve Trent, EJF Executive Director said: “The EU IUU Regulation can become the best instrument we have on a global scale to combat pirate fishing, but it is vital all the EU Member States work collaboratively - and in concert with the Commission – to implement and enforce it fully and evenly across the EU. Only by such collective action can the full strength of this vitally important legal instrument be leveraged against pirate fishing vessels and companies. This event is designed to encourage just such action, raising the profile of the problem and steps that Member States need to take”.

TheFishSite News Desk

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