Europe looks to take up Zero Tolerance on illegal fishing

Europe looks to take up Zero Tolerance on illegal fishing

Commissioner Maria Damanaki on her website ( has outlined what she believes must be the central aim of the Common Fisheries Policy.

It represents a serious attempt to being together the theree Master Regulations that were published in 2008 and 2009, and which came into effect (mostly) in January 2010. While most of what she states is not new, it does amount to a serious change in tact on the line being adopted by the Commission.

Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki said: “If we can’t enforce our own rules, this undermines the credibility of the whole common fisheries policy, no matter how sound it may be. We now have a comprehensive system of control and enforcement and I expect compliance with EU fishing rules to improve from now on.”

We can no longer allow even a small minority of fishermen to ignore the rules, and get away with it. Apart from being unfair this also undermines conservation efforts; it disrupts markets with unfair competition; it penalises law-abiding fishermen and chokes the circle of compliance; and, most importantly, it destroys fish stocks

Inspections will be done in the same way all over Europe. Data are collected and cross-checked electronically. And once the product reaches the stores, the consumer will know it has been fished legally. If someone breaks the law, they will face equally severe sanctions wherever they are and whatever their nationality. And if they are repeatedly caught fishing illegally, as a result of a new point system they will end up losing their licenses.

The Commissioner makes reference to a level playing field and this is a clear reference to several inititives that are being organised and will be in force by the 1st of January 2012: While some are well known such as the electronic Log Book, others are now being highlighted:

A system to check every vessels Engine to ensure that Engine Power matches Registered Engine Power.

Common Standards for Inspection activities and procedures

Common rules for Weighing

There will also be a standardization of penalties and rewards for good behavior. A three year window will be introduced and if no offences are committed during that time, then previous penalty points will be removed.

These changes will be felt more outside Ireland. The benefits to the Irish Sector in the short term will be the standardization of port side inspections. The longer terms effects will be as a result of the clamping down of illegal fishing in general which should have a real impact on the prices of fish, the sustainability of the industry in general and most importantly of all, quotas.

Dermot Conway
contact Dermot at 0214901000 or