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European Law Monitor NewsJoe Borg in Lisbon to address ministerial conference on eradicating illegal fishing

How the EU could make a crucial contribution to eliminating illegal fishing is the theme of the keynote address by European Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, Joe Borg, at the high level conference on eradicating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Lisbon on 29 October 2007. The Conference is hosted jointly by the Commission and the Portuguese Presidency of the European Union. It brings together EU Fisheries Ministers and Representatives with their counterparts from many of the most important EU's international fisheries partners from the North Atlantic and the Africa continent to discuss how to combat international trade in IUU fisheries products. This initiative follows on from the proposed Regulation and Communication on IUU fishing tabled by the Commission on 17 October. The day's proceedings will end with the adoption of a ministerial declaration on eradicating IUU fishing.

Commissioner Borg told the meeting: "We are all very aware of the tremendous damage that IUU fishing inflicts on fish stocks, marine biodiversity and fragile ecosystems and, as a result, on the honest fishermen and the coastal communities concerned, particularly in developing countries. As one of the leading fishing entities and largest market of fisheries products in the world, the EU must lead by example. The cornerstone of our proposal is therefore to close the EU market doors to imports of fisheries products from IUU fishing. International cooperation in this field will be crucial to our common fight to eradicate pirate fishing."

As one of the leading players in both production and consumption of fisheries products, the EU has a major role to play in stamping out IUU fishing. The Commission's approach, as laid out in the measures that it recently proposed rests on four pillars:

       * closing the EU market to illegal fisheries products, by introducing a system of port state control which requires prior certification by the flag state before fish or fisheries products can be landed or imported into the EU;
       * establishing a European black list of IUU vessels and of states which turn a blind eye to IUU activities;
       * ensuring deterrent sanctions are applied both against IUU activities in EU waters and against EU operators engaged in IUU activities anywhere in the world and
       * enhancing cooperation against illegal fishing at both regional and international levels.

Taking part in the meeting are high level representatives from the EU Member States and from 13 of the EU's international partners, including many of the nations with whom the EU has bilateral fisheries partnership agreements, by Members of the European Parliament as well as by delegates from the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). The fight against illegal fishing is a priority for the European Commission, and forms an integral part of the EU's drive to ensure the sustainable use of the sea which underpins the proposed integrated maritime policy adopted by the Commission on 10 October (See IP/07/1463) .