WWF applauds joint US-EU efforts to combat illegal fishing
Together the US and the EU command over half of global seafood imports and both have control over significant fishing fleets. Joint EU-US action against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing can make a real difference.
Maria Damanaki, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, signed the agreement on September 7th on behalf of the EU and said “IUU fishing is a criminal activity, and we have the duty to make everything possible to stop this practice ... By joining forces, we make it harder for culprits to get away with their dirty business."
WWF Senior Fellow David Schorr added, “The joint statement signed today is a good step on an important issue. Consumers in the US and Europe want to be sure the seafood they eat is legally and sustainably caught. Today’s joint statement - if followed with real action - will make the US and EU strong partners in the fight against the scourge of illegal fishing.”
Noting the need to translate promises into results, WWF called on the EU and US to immediately form an active working group for implementing the joint statement, and to set clear deadlines for action.
“There is a lot of work yet to be done”, said Schorr. “We are very hopeful that today’s statement will quickly lead to bold action to halt pirate fishing and end trade in illegally caught seafood products.”
The world’s fisheries are in crisis. Global fishing fleets are more than double the size of what our oceans can support and 85 per cent of marine fisheries are fully exploited or overfished - an increase from 75 per cent just four years ago. In response to these alarming trends, governments, businesses, and conservationists alike are searching for ways to prevent further decline and promote fisheries recovery through both regulatory and market-based strategies.
IUU fishing is one of the main threats to sustainable fisheries management around the world. By some estimates, IUU fishing averages 18 per cent of global catch and accounts for over 30 per cent of catch in some regions. With an estimated global value of up to US$23 billion per year, IUU fishing has a significant and negative impact on both ecosystems and the livelihoods that depend on them.
What the agreement involves
Both the US and EU participate in international fishery management organizations and promote international methods to address IUU fishing.
The new agreement calls for both the US and EU to cooperate on areas including:
- Developing a system to exchange information on IUU activities
- Promoting management measures at regional fishery management organizations that strengthen the control, monitoring and enforcement of vessels operational within certain areas
- Encouraging other countries to ratify and implement the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s Port State Measures Agreement
- Promoting the sustainable use of fisheries resources while preserving marine biodiversity
Smart Fishing Initiative
Through the Smart Fishing Initiative, WWF is working with fishers, fisheries managers, seafood traders and consumers to reform commercial marine fisheries towards long-term sustainability – where seafood is harvested in a way that sustains and protects the marine environment, the species within it, and the people who depend on them.
How you can help
- Buy sustainable seafood. By purchasing MSC-certified seafood products, consumers, retailers and traders are helping to encourage and reward responsible fisheries. Without the MSC label, your seafood may well stem from illegally fished or overfished sources.Take a look at our seafood guides today
- Donate to WWF to help support our fisheries and marine conservation work