Keeping Illegal Fish out of Europe: Ensuring Success for the IUU Regulation

The IUU Regulation seeks to prevent illegally caught fish from reaching European markets. This innovative legal tool has placed the EU at the forefront of efforts to address pirate fishing. Whilst it has the potential to leave a positive legacy in the fight against IUU fishing, evidence demonstrates that a lack of coordination and uniformity in its implementation risks compromising its intended objectives. 

Diversions of fish consignments to Member State ports with poorer controls than those of their neighbours and a growing trend in containerisation of fish suggest a need for more consistent implementation efforts and increased trade flow scrutiny. The absence of any vessels in the IUU Vessel Community List identified independently by Member States or by the European Commission is also concerning. 

The proactive and uniform implementation of the IUU Regulation should rely on cost-effective, politically viable and efficient solutions to identify IUU fishing and the people behind it. A move towards an electronic catch certificates and a Global Record of fishing vessels supported by IMO numbers would facilitate implementation and drive transparency throughout seafood supply chains. 

Addressing IUU fishing requires the effort of governments, civil society and the seafood industry. The political will to guide and sustain such effort is urgently needed. Without it, some of the most vulnerable human communities and marine environments will continue to suffer the impacts of IUU fishing. As the world's most valuable seafood market, the EU is both duty-bound and perfectly placed to act. 


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