NGOs call on EU to require electronic monitoring to stop illegal fishing
A group of 52 NGOs, retailers, seafood supply chain companies, and academic groups are urging the European Union fisheries ministers to add cameras and remote electronic monitoring (REM) to fishing fleets to help prevent illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.
The group, which includes organizations like the WWF, Oceana, ClientEarth, and more, is calling on the E.U. to mandate cameras for vessels that are above 12 meters in length. Currently, the E.U. is planning mandates to add cameras, but only for certain vessels above 24 meters.
According to the group, the current mandate would mean less than 3.2 percent of the E.U. fleet would be monitored.
“Requiring broader uptake of REM is crucial to combat illegal and unsustainable fishing practices inside the E.U., and for the EU to call on other countries to require the use of REM,” the joint statement said. “Only then can we ensure that the vast majority of legitimate operators who follow the rules are protected from unfair competition by those who do not.”
Some nations, like the Netherlands, have already come out in support of putting cameras on all E.U. fishing vessels that are at risk of illegal practices. The Dutch minister responsible for the countries fisheries, Carola Schouten, said she’s in favor of using criteria such as target species and fishing practices to determine which vessels should have REM.
“I applaud Minister Schouten’s leadership and encourage other E.U. Member States to follow,” Environmental Justice Foundation Executive Director Steve Trent said in a release. “Vessels below 24 meters should also be required to install REM, including cameras, on board. Mandatory uptake of REM is crucial to combating illegal and unsustainable fishing practices in the E.U., and it is also needed to allow the E.U. to call on other countries to require its use. Only then can we ensure that the vast majority of legitimate operators who follow the rules are protected from unfair competition by those who do not.”
Member states are expected to make a decision on the E.U. Fisheries Control Regulations at the end of June.
“Widespread adoption of REM in the E.U. could be a crucial step in the battle to save marine ecosystems and the hundreds of millions of people who depend on them,” the group said. “It will bolster the EU’s role as a global leader in the fight against illegal fishing and push countries across the world to adopt the same, critical technology.”
Photo courtesy of NOAA