Going digital: why an EU-wide database will help cease imports of unlawful fish


Unlawful, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing threatens populations of fish, damages marine habitats, contributes to unfair competitors between fishers and may jeopardise the meals safety of coastal communities.

IUU fishing is subsequently a significant reason behind social, financial and environmental harm, and through the years, has contributed to losses of billions of euros, in line with estimates. Whereas the EU has been a pioneer within the combat towards IUU fishing, fish imports are nonetheless accompanied by paper-based catch certificates, and there’s no absolutely digital EU-wide system but to share data between Member States.

This implies the EU market stays weak to imports caught via unlawful fishing actions, hurting the enterprise and livelihoods of authorized operators.

Taking catch certificates on-line

EU Member States and operators might considerably enhance the combat towards IUU fishing in the event that they changed the paper-based catch certificates scheme with an EU-wide digitised system. Such a scheme – referred to as ‘CATCH’ – has been proposed by the European Fee and is being thought-about by EU nations throughout the bloc.

In a latest webinar, ClientEarth and the EU IUU Coalition introduced collectively specialists to debate greatest follow for utilizing the brand new centralised digital scheme to speed up the combat towards IUU fishing within the EU.

IUU fishing – the necessity for digitising import controls

Pierre Karleskind, the Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Fisheries, identified: “Sixty % of the seafood that we devour in Europe is imported” and defined that the EU has subsequently invested important efforts on insurance policies to make sure that no IUU-derived merchandise are imported into the market. “That is our obligation to the customers, to the residents and to our fishermen.”

Based on Mr Karleskind, “The EU needs to be on the forefront of the combat towards IUU fishing […], our present regulation nonetheless wants to enhance by modernising the traceability devices just like the catch certificates.”

CATCH: reaping the rewards of an digital monitoring system

A number of of the most important importers within the bloc– corresponding to Spain, Germany or France – obtain between 40,000 and 60,000 paper catch certificates yearly. However traits in commerce flows counsel that operators could also be exploiting sure EU borders which have, weaker controls.

Experiences printed by ClientEarth and the EU IUU Coalition present that the weaknesses in EU nations’ present import management schemes and uneven requirements might be creating loopholes for merchandise that had been sourced illicitly or are linked to IUU fishing.

The usage of CATCH would stop a few of these issues by growing effectivity, safety and making a system much less weak to fraud.

The advantages of CATCH had been reiterated through the occasion by Anna Kullmann from the German Federal Workplace for Agriculture and Meals, noting that CATCH could be essential to carry out EU-wide amount administration and that this may make IUU controls way more efficient.

This was additional harassed by Marta Lopez, Chief of Unit – Intelligence Towards IUU Fishing from the Deputy Directorate-Normal of Fisheries Surveillance and Battle Towards IUU of Spain, who famous: “The principal benefit [of CATCH] is evidently that using paper is deserted. There may be additionally the immediacy of the communication of the outcomes of inspection, the impossibility of overuse [of catch certificates] in addition to direct management of balances.”

Want for implementation

The EU IUU Regulation, which entered into drive in 2010, stays essentially the most far-reaching and influential system of its variety in operation immediately. Nonetheless, to strengthen its implementation and cease unlawful fishing merchandise from coming into the EU, it’s key that Member States, particularly people who shouldn’t have their very own digitised system, begin utilizing CATCH earlier than it turns into obligatory.

Nonetheless, even after the system turns into obligatory for EU Member States, its use will solely be voluntary for non-EU nation authorities and exporters. Nonetheless, there’s already curiosity from nations outdoors the EU.

A consultant of DG MARE, Pawel Swiderek, highlighted that whereas non-EU nations additionally had IT techniques to handle their fisheries, “one of many future challenges shall be to match IT environments. Attaining it will scale back administrative burden and likewise guarantee extra dependable information for associated verifications.”

“Thailand is likely one of the predominant producers; for us it’s essential to coordinate with the EU system and enhance the cooperation,” stated Wanwipa Suwannarak, Director of Fish Inspection and High quality Management Division from the Division of Fisheries of Thailand.

From an trade perspective, Anna Boulova from FRUCOM, harassed that sensible implementation was paramount, and every social gathering has its obligations. Good cooperation between the European Fee, the authorities and seafood operators within the EU and in origin nations was “the way in which ahead,” including the necessity for selling the system:  “The important thing level could be trainings, data and communication.”

Past CATCH: The advantages of worldwide constant import management schemes

To finish the occasion, Katrin Vilhelm Poulsen from the EU IUU Coalition emphasised that “the extra seafood importing nations have sturdy import management schemes that hint seafood, the tougher it’s for unlawful operators to hunt out and exploit ‘markets of comfort’ – weak entry factors.”

This holds true past the borders of the EU. Main seafood markets ought to work collectively to streamline the techniques they use to regulate imports, Ms Poulsen urged, and align the Key Information Parts that they request. This can assist fishers and all different operators within the fisheries provide chain to scale back the price of complying with a number of techniques and forestall illicit commerce diversions.

Given this want for extra aligned management schemes throughout jurisdictions, Ms Poulsen pointed to a press release by vital seafood companies and associations from the sector – corresponding to Europêche, the International Tuna Alliance, FRUCOM, Opagac and others – which explicitly calls on main market states to work in direction of nearer harmonisation of import controls.

The hyperlink to the webinar recording could be discovered right here.

Speaker displays:

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