Posted on 21 October 2009
European governments and enterprises continuing to flout fisheries regulations are to be denied access to EU public funds, according to measures agreed by the EU Fisheries Council this week. WWF has welcomed the initiative, which at one stage seemed likely to be derailed by last minute objections from a group of nations fishing the Mediterranean.
European governments and enterprises continuing to flout fisheries regulations are to be denied access to EU public funds, according to measures agreed by the EU Fisheries Council this week.
WWF has welcomed the Control and Enforcement Regulation creates a common system of rules and sanctions to be applied at national level in Europe.
“Existing rules have been applied poorly or not at all, disadvantaging fishermen and governments who played by the rules. Illegal fishing continues to be a huge threat to healthy fish stocks and profitable fisheries," said Aaron Mc Loughlin, Head of the European Marine Programme at WWF's European Policy Office.
When some fishing nations raised last minute objections to the Article 95 sanctions on public funding for rule breaking nations and fishers, WWF wrote to the EU noting that "the fishery sector is the only sector covered by Community law in which funds are still distributed to Member States with perfect impunity, without being conditioned upon compliance with control rules."
It was "common sense" that there be provisions "setting down countermeasures in suspending and reducing financial aid in cases in which Member States continue to show no intention of stopping persistent and serious infringements," the letter said.
The nations, led by France, had sought to have serious infringements dealt with by application to the European Court of Justice. However, WWF noted that "It took over 24 years for the Court of Justice to order France to pay penalties because of failing to carry out controls of fishing activities in accordance with the requirements laid down by the Community provisions".
WWF strongly believes that measures to tackle illegal fishing inside and outside EU waters are to be implemented as soon as possible starting from the 1st of January 2010.