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Europe D66 European Parliament Economy

Clampdown on illegal fishing essential to save fish stocks

   Thu 04/07/2002

"As long as fishermen believe all their colleagues are overfishing they have no incentive to obey the laws. Fighting illegal fishing is crucial if we want to have any fish left in Europe" said Lousewies van der Laan, applauding the adoption of two reports in the European parliament to clamp down on illegal fishing. The reports are meant to put maximum pressure on the European Commission which is reforming the European Fisheries policy.

The tide of law breaking in the fisheries sector must be turned if fundamental reform of the common fisheries policy is to be achieved, according to Dutch Liberal Democrat MEP Lousewies van der Laan.

Speaking ahead of European Parliament votes this Thursday on the implementation of fisheries policy and breaches of EU rules in this field, she said:

"As long as fishermen believe all their colleagues are overfishing they have no incentive to obey the laws. Fighting illegal fishing is crucial if we want to have any fish left in Europe.

"The inconsistent approach across the European Union to control and monitoring, and the wide variations in penalties against breaches of the rules, fosters a culture of distrust amongst fishermen, who feel that these differences encourage the widespread flouting of rules. Improved training of inspectors and greater co-operation between Member States in applying the rules is essential to overcoming the problems, as is a system of harmonised minimum sanctions."

"Democrats 66 consider it essential that all Member States and the European Commission take their responsibilities seriously in this regard, including the presentation of information in a comprehensive, timely and legible manner."

The reports drafted by Liberal Democrat MEPs emphasise the importance of applying rules in an equitable manner, including the use of similar control methods across the European Union and the introduction of harmonised minimum sanctions. In 2000, the average penalty recorded in each member state for all categories of offence varied from 316 Euros to at least 10691 Euros.

The fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries is one of the pillars of the recent reform package proposed by the European Commission. The European Liberal group has been given the task of preparing the European Parliament's response to this aspect of the strategy, and has confirmed its intention to lay down the gauntlet for a well regulated fisheries policy that works for fish and fishermen alike.

 

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