Malta reiterates its commitment to fight against the illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities

The Malta Independent, 18th April 2008 – Malta yesterday reiterated its commitment to fight against the Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUU) activities. This was stated by Resources and Rural Affairs Minister George Pullicino during the opening speech of a seminar which discussed the theme “Preventing, Deterring and Eliminating Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing”. The European Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Joe Borg also attended and addressed the seminar.

Minister Pullicino stated that notwithstanding the fact that the measures considered in the European Commission’s proposal will definitely continue to add to the financial and human resource burden of fisheries control, and also notwithstanding that these burdens are substantial for small member states, Malta remains fully committed to fight IUU fishing.

He added that Malta’s efforts in fighting IUU fishing are longstanding and it has repeatedly spoken out against IUU fishing practices in the past in international fora. One such example is Malta’s ongoing reporting of driftnet fishing for swordfish in the Mediterranean. Minister Pullicino stated that Malta has translated the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries in Maltese. This measure was adopted to make the code more accessible to the local fishermen, enabling them to acquaint themselves with responsible fishing as intended by the international community and therefore deter from actions in breach of the code and regulations in general.

Mr Pullicino referred to the draft Council Regulation discussing IUU fishing and he stated that this is a true, realistic effort by the European Union to combat IUU fishing. This regulation will take controls, and therefore the elimination of IUU fishing, one step further. He added that this step will definitely speed up action in deterring IUU fishing and therefore the issue will become an integral part of our surveillance and control systems.

He stressed that the actions proposed will also induce greater coordination between different departments such as Customs, Fisheries and the Maritime Authority to mention a few. Minister Pullicino said that Malta feels that this regulation should encompass fishery activities by all fishing fleets and should attempt a uniform approach whenever possible. This should include the marketing of fishery products, a better and complete governance of the seas, and the improvement in the current set-ups which should result in sustainability of fish stocks and marine biodiversity.