Leading insurers from around the world comitted to take action on pirate fishing, an unlawful practice that costs the global economy tens of billions of dollars in losses every year and contributes to overfishing and the destruction of vital marine habitats and ecosystems. Oceana and UN Environment’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance Initiative (PSI) facilitated the development of the world’s first insurance industry statement on sustainable marine insurance. The document was co-sponsored by Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty, AXA, Generali, Hanseatic Underwriters and The Shipowners’ Club, and it confirms their commitment to not knowingly insure or facilitate the insuring of vessels that have been blacklisted for their involvement in pirate fishing—also known as illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
The European Commission, Parliament and Council of Fisheries Ministers announced a new regulation governing the European Union’s extensive external fishing fleet. One third of total European catches are made on the high seas and in the waters of non EU countries. Since 2008, the EU has authorized over 23,000 vessels to fish outside EU waters. The new law applies the same strict requirements to all EU vessels fishing in the waters of other nations, promoting responsible fishing around the world. The new rules also make it public for the first time which vessels fish where, including private agreements, where an EU-flagged vessel makes a direct contract with the government of a non-EU coastal state to fish in its waters. Finally, the new regulation stops so-called abusive reflagging, where a vessel repeatedly and rapidly changes its flag for the purposes of circumventing conservation measures. In total, the new law makes the EU external fleet one of the most transparent in the world. Oceana led a two-year campaign pushing for these new measures. Learn more: http://www.whofishesfar.org/
Spain Announces Law to Fight Pirate Fishing
Spain, which is Europe’s largest fishing country and the biggest importer and exporter of seafood products in the European Union, has become the first Member State to take action against pirate fishing. Spain introduced a new fisheries law that imposes stronger penalties on Spanish citizens found to be involved with pirate fishing anywhere around the world. The new Spanish fisheries law, 33/2014, is the translation into Spanish legislation of the EU’s illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing regulation, which requires all EU member States to take action against citizens and companies found to be involved in any IUU fishing activities anywhere in the world. Under this new law, the Spanish government will be able to act against Spanish citizens who are benefiting from illegal fishing.
España anuncia una nueva ley contra la pesca pirata
España, el mayor país pesquero de Europa y el principal importador y exportador de pescado de la UE, se convierte en el primer Estado Miembro en pasar a la acción contra la pesca pirata. La nueva ley de pesca impone sanciones más duras a los ciudadanos españoles involucrados en pesca ilegal en cualquier lugar del mundo. La ley 33/2014 es la transposición a la legislación española del reglamento de la UE sobre la pesca ilegal, no declarada y no reglamentada, que exige a todos los Estados Miembros que actúen contra los ciudadanos y compañías involucradas en actividades de pesca ilegal, no declarada y no reglamentada en cualquier parte del mundo.
Stopping Illegal Driftnets
Oceana issued a report to the European Commission and the general public on the continued use of illegal driftnets in the Mediterranean. This report is the last of a series resulting from years of Oceana work against the use of this illegal fishing gear and the fraud in subsidies. Oceana’s efforts contributed toward a judgment against Italy for the lack of control in the use of this illegal fishing gear. The European Union Court of Justice found Italy in breach of EU law for continuing to use driftnets, despite the ban on this gear in 2002. Separately, Oceana’s research has pushed for the reimbursement of subsidies intended to finance the conversion of driftnets fraudulently used by the fleet. Oceana’s report showed that 73 of 92 Italian vessels photographed with driftnets on board had been previously identified for conversion. To date, Italy has returned 7.7 million euros due to cases of fraud in subsidies for reconverting driftnet vessels.
The European Court of Justice formally ruled against France for its failure to control the illegal use by its fleet of driftnets in the Mediterranean.
The Court also formally denied France’s request to consider future exemptions for its fleet from the EU driftnet ban. In Italy, the Calabrian prosecutor formally charged several driftnetters for illegal activities and has since kept them ashore under house arrest.
Banning Mediterranean driftnetting
After Oceana showed that some fishing ships continued to use illegal fishing gear, the European Court of Justice rejected further requests by the French government for exemptions from the EU ban on driftnetting in the Mediterranean Sea. This ruling spares 25,000 juvenile bluefin tuna caught annually in the driftnets, along with thousands of other types of marine animals, including whales, dolphins, other marine mammals, seabirds and countless species of fish and sealife.
Italy closes loopholes on illegal driftnetters
Two months after Oceana presented its findings to ACCOBAMS, a scientific organization devoted to the protection of dolphins, whales and other cetaceans in European seas, the Italian Attorney General announced new efforts to crack down on illegal driftnetting by declaring it illegal for vessels to carry driftnets on board regardless of whether or not they are being used when detected. Driftnets often incidentally kill marine mammals, sharks and other species.