The European Court of Auditors (ECA) has published a damning report on fisheries compliance by member states of the European Union. The auditors visited Spain, France, Italy and the UK (Scotland)—which represent nearly half of the union’s total fish catches—revealing a serious lack of control in the Mediterranean Sea. According to the report, virtually no effort is made to ensure compliance with fishing rules. About 96% of the region’s fish stocks are overexploited.
The report cites a number of deficiencies. First, member states exempted vessels between 40–50 feet in length from satellite monitoring if they fish in national waters and stay at sea for less than 24 hours—resulting in 79% of these vessels operating without being monitored. Second, the report found that member states do not perform the mandatory engine power checks—a major problem since more engine power equates to bigger catches and at deeper depths. Third, there were found to be huge differences between catches recorded by the member states and the data available from the European Commission—this difference being some 72% for Italy, for example.
Commenting on the report, Lasse Gustavsson, executive director of Oceana in Europe, said: “The European Court of Auditors' report confirms what we have been saying for years: Control efforts need to be stepped up in order to efficiently implement the Common Fisheries Policy and stop overfishing. Without real and efficient control and enforcement, our fisheries will be nothing more than a pile of bureaucratic papers for fishless seas.”
Read a PDF of the ECA’s report here.
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