The Pew Charitable Trusts / The Pew Environment Group

U.S. and EU Pledge Crackdown on Illegal Fishing

Pew stresses importance of global enforcement

WASHINGTON, Sept. 7, 2011 /PR Newswire/ -- Joshua S. Reichert, managing director of the Pew Environment Group, issued this statement today in response to a historic agreement between the United States and the European Union to stop illegal fishing.

'Two of the three largest seafood importing markets deciding to crackdown on the illegal fishing epidemic could represent a major turning point for the health of the oceans, communities that depend on fish and the majority of fishermen who play by the rules. This far-sighted agreement has the potential to cement the roles of the European Union and the United States as leaders in combating this serious global environmental and economic crime.

'Because closing the net on pirate fishing in one area often results in criminals simply moving to another, we look forward to working with the EU and the U.S. to build a global fisheries enforcement system—the only way to truly stop these crimes on a broad scale.

'Key elements of such a system include a global registry to identify fishing vessels, a global database to collect and disseminate information about potentially illegal activity and stricter measures that require ports to prevent pirate fishermen from offloading their contraband. Countries also need to adopt laws and policies to facilitate prosecutions and stop the trade in illegally caught fish. And such a system should have a way for all nations to share and then analyze this information—essentially an INTERPOL for the oceans.

'We are committed to assisting these two governments in reversing the tide of illegal fishing, which is significantly damaging many of the world's fisheries and depriving millions of people of basic food security and the ability to earn a livelihood from the sea.'

The Pew Environment Group is the conservation arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts, a nongovernmental organization that works globally to establish pragmatic, science-based policies that protect our oceans, preserve our wildlands and promote clean energy. For more information, visit


Pew's Global Campaign to End Illegal Fishing website.

Upcoming opportunities to transform the words and intent of this declaration into action:
The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), of which the United States and EU are member nations, will meet in November in Istanbul. A key focus of this agreement is the use of electronic tools to better track and differentiate legal and illegal seafood products. Member nations have the opportunity to implement an electronic catch documentation scheme to better track the highly valuable Atlantic bluefin tuna.

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) to be held in June 2012, provides an opportunity to create critical institutional mechanisms for the high seas, where no State has sole jurisdiction and where change depends on international cooperation, compliance and enforcement mechanisms.

Contact: Dave Bard, 202.486.4426

SOURCE Pew Environment Group

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