In his draft report on the EC proposal for the future common organisation of the markets in fishery and aquaculture products, the European Parliament rapporteur highlights that ‘the Commission should ensure that fisheries and aquaculture products imported from third countries fully respect sustainable fishing practices and the provisions of Union law, in order to ensure Union and imported products compete on a level playing field’, explaining that this refers to ‘the “missing” part on international trade for which the Commission wants to introduce a separate legislative proposal’.
This separate proposal (the proposal for a regulation on certain measures in relation to countries allowing non-sustainable fishing for the purpose of the conservation of fish stocks) was also being debated in the European Parliament in March 2012.
The EC highlights that the coverage of this legislation will be concerned with third countries which conduct ‘fisheries activities that jeopardise the sustainability of the stock, failing to cooperate with the Union in its management, [when] specific measures should be adopted in order to promote the contribution of those countries to the conservation of the stock’.
The European Parliament draft report insists that ‘Such measures should aim to remove incentives for the fleets of the country allowing non-sustainable fishing to fish on the stock of common interest’. Measures proposed include quantitative restrictions on imports of fisheries products from a country allowing non-sustainable fishing and restrictions on the use of EU ports by vessels flying the flag of the country allowing non-sustainable fishing.
The EP rapporteur fully supports the EC proposal but ‘calls for an unmistakable political message, including a more clear-cut approach and strong, effective measures. Trade measures to be applied should not be limited to imports of the “stocks of common interest” and “associated species” only, but applicable to all imports of fish and fishery products of all species originating from countries allowing non-sustainable fishing’.
The adoption of this new legislation may have profound impacts on ACP fish trade, mainly affecting ACP fish producers and exporters to the EU market. Some fishing operations currently taking place in ACP waters may be considered unsustainable. In most cases, this is primarily due to a lack of technical and human capacity in ACP coastal states. It is important that this aspect is taken into account when drafting and implementing EU fisheries legislation. Also specific support measures need to be put in place and applied in order to enhance ACP coastal countries capacity to manage and police their fisheries. Governance of ACP fisheries, particularly as regards environmental and social sustainability, transparency and accountability, will become of paramount importance for exporting fish products onto the EU market.