Client Earth report on the failure of some EU Countries to fully implement the rules that enforce the Common Fisheries Policy

Half-hearted sanctions against illegal fishing threaten Europe’s seas

Countries across the EU are failing to punish illegal fishing activities and not enforcing fisheries laws properly, new research by ClientEarth finds today.

Under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), all EU countries must impose sanctions to deter people from breaking fishing laws.

But ClientEarth has found that some EU countries haven’t implemented all the rules that enforce the CFP, including key fishing countries like France, Spain and the Netherlands. This undermines fisheries laws and means there is no level playing field for fishers across the EU.

The number of sanctions against those that break the law is also incredibly low. Authorities are doing little or nothing about illegal fishing.”

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The control and enforcement of fisheries in England

This case study assesses England’s compliance with EU laws for detecting, prosecuting and sanctioning illegal fishing practices by its vessels and in its waters. It is based on a combination of desk-based research, interviews with key stakeholders and freedom of information request. Our key findings and recommendations include:

• that the approach to the detection of infringements must be reinforced, for example through guidance and trainings;
• that the level of sanctions should be set at dissuasive levels, following the amendment of the enforcement strategies of the competent control authorities and the publication of new sentencing guidelines for magistrates;
• that the guidance published by the Marine Management Organisation on the implementation of the penalty point system should be reviewed to bring it in line with the EU requirements;
• that the competent authorities take a commitment to maintain a comprehensive control framework after the United Kingdom leaves the EU.

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