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18th Apr 13Managed by Chatham House
Financed by DEFRA
EU supports Indian Ocean countries' fight against illegal fishing in the region
The European Commission, on behalf of the Union, has entered into a partnership with the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) to fight Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fisheries in the region. At a meeting, held in the Seychelles on 23-24 January, the two Parties signed a framework partnership agreement that launches a regional plan for fisheries surveillance in the southwest Indian Ocean. Furthermore, the EU will fund an initial project under this plan to the tune of 7 million covering the first three years (2007-2010).
'This is a concrete example of the EU putting its money where its mouth is. We are fully committed to combating illegal fishing practices and we believe that regional fisheries management organisations, such as the IOC, are crucial to winning this battle. The EU funding will strengthen the IOC in its endeavours against such practices.', commented Joe Borg, European Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs.
The regional plan for fisheries surveillance will be developed in close co-operation between the members of the Indian Ocean Commission and the EU. The objective of the plan is to improve the capacities of the Indian Ocean countries to develop, adopt and implement strategies for monitoring, control and surveillance. The plan should strengthen existing national efforts though pooling of resources, improved co-ordination and data sharing. The EU will contribute financially to the costs of intensified surveillance efforts and will help to explore the benefits of using sophisticated technologies for surveillance such as satellite monitoring.
The ministerial declaration adopted at the conference, today, endorses at political level several measures that the IOC contracting parties have already committed themselves to applying immediately. The measures aim at making it more difficult and less profitable for IUU vessels to circumvent fishing rules. The measures include a ban against transhipment at sea (transfer of cargo, crews and supplies between vessels at sea) and denial of access to ports for vessels that have been blacklisted by any regional fisheries management organisation, or that are not included on the 'white list' of vessels fishing legally. Measures also include harmonisation of national legislation against IUU fisheries, and setting fines at a level that deter illegal activities.
IUU fishing threatens the sustainability of fisheries in the south-west Indian Ocean, where highly profitable fisheries operate in a vast geographic area, and where most states lack sufficient operational means to ensure efficient monitoring and controls.
The Indian Ocean Commission is a regional fisheries management organisation made up of five members: Comoros, France (on behalf of La Runion), Madagascar, Mauritius and the Seychelles. The European Union has fisheries partnership agreements with non-EU members of the organisation, and is the main importer of the region's seafood products. The Indian Ocean was the first region where the traditional EU bilateral fisheries agreements were replaced by fisheries partnership agreements, which put stronger emphasis on development objectives. In addition to these bilateral relationships, these countries and the EU are also members of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) which regulates fisheries on tuna and tuna related-species in the region.
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Issues/Monitoring, control and surveillance
Europe/France Overseas Territories
Ocean Areas/Indian Ocean