Screw tightens on llegal fishers – Fishupdate.com

Screw tightens on llegal fishers Published:  29 April, 2007

A NEW fish tracking system system to beat illegal fishing globally will get UK backing tomorrow (30 April.)

UK Fisheries Minister Ben Bradshaw and Gareth Thomas, the Minister

for International Development will meet supermarkets including Tesco

and Marks & Spencer to champion measures designed to deter illegal

fishing and boost consumer confidence.

The Ministers will also announce a £15 million scheme to help

fishermen in Sierra Leone stamp out illegal fishing, including

setting up a tracing scheme that will track fish being exported to

the EU.

Illegal fishing is a major form of organised crime that deprives

often very poor communities, of up to $9 billion in lost income every

year – $1 billion of which is the loss to Africa.

Gareth Thomas, UK Development Minister, said:

“Every year billions of dollars are snatched away from poor people

around the world that could be used to help make poverty history. One

way of stopping this is to have an EU wide tracking system that

protects poor fishermen and reassures UK consumers that the fish they

buy from the supermarket freezer or fish and chip shop has been

caught fairly and responsibly.

“It would build business confidence, lead to companies rushing to

work with poor communities and help fishermen reap the benefits of

their hard work.”

Ben Bradshaw, UK Fisheries Minister, said:

“Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is a huge problem. It

destroys fish stocks and marine biodiversity, it depresses the market

in legally caught fish, and drives legitimate fishermen out of

business.

“It’s driven by sophisticated criminal gangs who don’t care what or

who they damage in the pursuit of easy cash. It’s a crime that should

concern the world, because it plunders a world resource.

“We all have a responsibility and a duty to make sure there is

adequate governance and enforcement in place to stop illegal fishing

and to block illegal produce entering the food chain. New laws will

target not only fishermen but processors and importers who trade in

illegal fish.”

David Audley, President of the group that represents 10,000 fish and

chip shop owners in the UK, said:

“The NFFF [National Federation of Fish Friers] strongly advise all

fryers to use fish from sustainable sources to ensure the British

public can continue to enjoy their favourite fish and chips. Any

effective measures the EU propose to stop illegal fishing have our

wholehearted support.”

At the meeting of representatives from several African Governments,

British food processors and supermarkets including Tesco and Marks

and Spencer’s the Ministers will highlight the importance of

including a fish monitoring system in new European legislation

currently being drafted.

They will say that new EU regulations should take account of

successful initiatives already being used by British businesses such

as members of the UK Food and Drink Federation (FDF). The UK

Government has been working with the FDF, which has a voluntary code

of practice for tracking fish imports, to influence EU policy makers

so they adopt a tracing system that is workable, meets the needs of

fishermen and stops criminals selling on illegally caught fish to the

EU. The FDF code of practice has been endorsed by WWF Europe.

Cliff Morrison, Chairman of the Seafood Group, UK Food and Drink

Federation, said:

“The issue of illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing is at

the forefront of the food processing industry’s agenda. The

development and implementation of the industry’s code of practice to

counteract IUU fishing activities is a major step in addressing this

problem.”

An effective traceability system to responsibly source tuna, such as

that used by FDF members, currently allows them to trace fish back to

the boat, whilst developing a supply chain verification system that

uses electronic systems throughout the chain. In addition to the

traceability systems, regular technical audits of the whole chain

will continue to validate the process.

The proposed EU regulations are intended to close a gap in current EU

laws and prevent illegally caught fish entering member states. Draft

legislation is expected to be published by the summer of 2007.

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