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EC Welcomes NEAFC Move Against Illegal Fishing

by Ulrika Lomas, for, Brussels

21 November 2006

The European Commission last week welcomed the new port state control scheme adopted by the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) to tackle illegal fishing activities.

The measures, which come into force on May 1, 2007, will require the green light from the flag state to the port state before foreign fishing vessels will be authorised to land frozen fish products in the ports of the Contracting Parties to NEAFC.

The agreed measures also include new obligations and benchmarks as regards inspections to be carried out by the port state. This is a very important development in combating illegal catches of fish that are more difficult to detect, particularly when the fish is landed frozen, as is often the case with cod from the Barents Sea.

Welcoming this agreement, Joe Borg, European Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, stated that:

“This is a most welcome breakthrough in tackling the illegal fishing activities in the north Atlantic. The decision taken by NEAFC also strengthens the developments recently observed in the North-West Fisheries Organisation and the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Living Marine Resources in taking decisive measures to eliminate illegal fishing. These regional fisheries management organisations are the best instruments to achieve effective governance on the high seas.”

Pointing out that the EU had played a leading role in the introduction of this very first port state control scheme, Commissioner Borg also welcomed the positive attitude of the NEAFC partners, in particular the Russian Federation.

The contracting parties to NEAFC are: the European Union, Denmark (in respect of the Faeroe Islands and Greenland), Iceland, Norway and the Russian Federation.

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