A joint statement has been signed between the EU and Japan to cooperate in combating IUU fishing. The European Commissioner highlighted that ‘the EU and Japan rank first and second, respectively, as the world’s top seafood importers. They have now agreed that the seafood they import will not be caught illegally’. EU and Japan are also parties to RFMOs and international treaties, through which they can work jointly for strengthening monitoring and enforcement of management measures.
More specifically, the agreement commits the EU and Japan to systematically exchange information on IUU activities; to promote in RFMOs measures that strengthen MCS and to encourage other countries to ratify and implement the FAO’s Port State Measures Agreement.
The Commissioner stressed that the EU has a policy of ‘zero tolerance’ for IUU fishing, and, through its new IUU regulation, particularly the catch-certification scheme, this means that ‘illegally-caught products can no longer reach the EU market or any market supplied by the EU’.
The Commissioner reiterated that the solution to illegal fishing lies in concerted international action: ‘We need Japan's support in this global effort. Since the catch-certification scheme is proving quite effective for us, as a next concrete step we intend to develop this idea with our international partners through the regional management fisheries organisations, with the ultimate goal to set up a worldwide traceability system’.
A similar agreement was signed some months ago with the USA, and this new agreement with Japan, another key fish market, is proof that the EU is implementing its strategy for promoting an internationally agreed catch-certification scheme. It would be also important for the EU and ACP countries to agree on a common agenda to fight IUU fishing, as ACP waters are amongst the most productive fishing areas in the world and supply important quantities of fish, including from IUU operations, to the EU and the global fish market. Such agreement would also ensure that the current EU IUU certification scheme is enshrined in a wider ACP strategy to combat IUU fishing, as was discussed at the latest ACP meeting of fisheries ministers in June.