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EU auditors' report reveals lack of transparency of EU fishing in developing countries




SharkFishing_Marcia_Moreno_MarinePhotobankOceana warns that lack of data and transparency endangers the sustainable exploitation of third countries’ resources.

A report by the European Court of Auditors has revealed a lack of data that jeopardises the sustainability of EU fisheries agreements with third countries (Sustainable Fisheries Partnership agreements or SFPAs). According to the Common Fisheries Policy, EU fleets can only target the surplus of a stock, but the report questions the calculations of this surplus and if the actual catch data is reliable. Oceana is concerned about these findings, which adds to the long-existing absence of public information on vessels operating outside the EU.

“To have a clear overview of the impact of the global fishing activity, reliable data and transparency are needed”, said María José Cornax, fisheries director of Oceana in Europe. “For the EU vessels in particular, they have been operating since 1960, but it has never been disclosed which vessels were authorized, where and what they can catch. In line with the Common Fisheries Policy, the EU has a responsibility to ensure that its vessels – wherever in the world they fish – operate in a  way that is sustainable, transparent and accountable. Reliable information on the activities of the EU fleet and the impact they have on the resources in developing countries is of crucial importance.”

A lack of public data has also prevented an effective monitoring of the EU fleet activity in third waters. Currently, there is no public register on the activities of this fleet. The sole exception is, a database launched by NGOs in July this year after an access to information request to the European Commission. The database has revealed that 4,160 FAR authorizations have been awarded to vessels to operate under SFPAs between 2010 and 2014.

To effectively monitor the activity of the EU fleet and improve accountability, fair competition and fisheries management in both the EU and third countries, the EU should create a public database that discloses all the authorisations given to vessels to operate under SFPAs. Oceana considers that the upcoming EU review of the Fisheries Authorisation Regulation (FAR) – which provides authorizations for EU vessels as well as non-EU vessels fishing in EU waters – is a perfect opportunity for the EU to establish such a register.

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