WASHINGTON, Sept. 7, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- EU Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner, Maria Damanaki, and U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, signed today in Washington, DC, a joint statement pledging bilateral cooperation to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. This statement is the first of its kind in the longstanding partnership between the European Union and the United States on fisheries management.
"IUU fishing is a criminal activity, and we have the duty to make everything possible to stop this practice," said Commissioner Damanaki. "Today's agreement will do just that. By joining forces, we make it harder for culprits to get away with their dirty business."
"Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is one of the most serious threats to sustainable fishing and to marine biodiversity in the world's oceans," said Dr. Lubchenco. "International cooperation across oceans will help us strengthen enforcement and prevent legal fishing industries from being undermined in the global marketplace by illegal fishing."
The EU and U.S. rank first and third, respectively, as the world's top seafood importers (Japan second), and have agreed that the seafood they import will not be caught illegally. Globally, IUU fishing deprives legal fishermen and coastal communities of up to 23 billion dollars of seafood and seafood products annually.
The EU and the United States have already put in place a number of legal measures to combat IUU fishing, such as the EU's IUU Regulation and the U.S. High Seas Driftnet Fishing Moratorium Protection Act. Both participate actively in international fishery management organizations and promote international instruments to address IUU fishing.
Today's agreement commits the EU and the U.S. to work together to adopt the most effective tools to combat illegal fishing. It commits them to continue to strengthen monitoring and enforcement of management measures in their role as parties to regional fishery management organizations and to various international treaties, and commits them to using tools that prevent IUU operators from benefiting economically from their illegal activities.
The new agreement includes a system to exchange information on IUU activities; promotes management measures at regional fishery management organizations that strengthen the control, monitoring and enforcement of vessels operation within certain areas; encourages other countries to ratify and implement the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's Committee on Fisheries' Port State Measures Agreement; and promotes the sustainable use of fisheries resources while preserving marine biodiversity.
Beyond domestic boundaries, there is increasing need for international cooperation, especially among major fishing and seafood-importing nations, to improve global fisheries management of shared marine resources and to preserve the associated employment and other economic benefits of sustainable fisheries. The document signed today by the European Union and the United States is an important step toward achieving these goals.
Joint Statement between the European Commission and the United States Government on Efforts to Combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing: http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/damanaki/headlines/press-releases/2011/09/20110907_jointstatement_eu-us_iuu_en.pdf
SOURCE Delegation of the European Union to the United States