Event: Stopping IUU fish from entering the EU

Date: September 18, 2020

The EU IUU Coalition and ClientEarth are organising a webinar to hear first-hand from the European Commission about the characteristics and recent developments of the EU CATCH system, the first EU-wide tool for the electronic processing of catch certificates, created to support the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

IUU fishing continues to be a major global problem causing serious social, economic and environmental damage, and is estimated to contribute to losses in the region of 10 billion euros annually.

International focus on IUU fishing has significantly increased, as cross-NGO initiatives, governments and the seafood industry have shone a spotlight on the serious threats these activities bring to the ocean. As the largest seafood market globally, the EU has invested significant efforts on policies that ensure that no IUU-derived products are imported into the EU market. The EU IUU Regulation, which entered into force in 2010, remains the most far-reaching and influential system of its kind in operation today. However, ten years on, fish arriving in the EU are still accompanied by paper catch certificates.

There is now a general consensus between the European Commission, EU Member States, industry and environmental NGOs, for the need to have catch certificates digitised. This would have multiple benefits such as higher efficiency, security and a system less vulnerable to fraud. In this regard, the European Commission in its recent proposal for a revision of the EU fisheries control system, introduces such a system, called CATCH, and includes provisions for its mandatory use.

According to the NGOs, the revision of the EU fisheries control system provides a timely opportunity for the EU to introduce a system long-called for by fisheries stakeholders. In this sense, the organisations want to ensure that the proposal of the Commission to replace the paper-based catch certificate scheme with an electronic scheme is included in the future Regulation. To stop products from illegal fishing coming into the EU, it is key that Member States already start using CATCH, which is fully available on a voluntary basis at the moment, and not wait until its use is made mandatory in the future EU fisheries control system. Starting to use CATCH as soon as possible is especially important, as the current proposal for the future law includes a transition period of two years before its entry into force. This is key for Member States who do not have their own digitised system.

In order to provide insights on how the EU CATCH system works and the opportunities it offers, the webinar will bring together European Commission representatives, as well as EU Member States, who will present their national IT systems. EU Member States, who already have a digitised system, have accumulated valuable experience and lessons learnt which they will be sharing during the webinar. In addition, other stakeholders, such as a non-EU country, as well as a representative body of seafood importers, will also share their perspectives on the opportunities offered by the use of this system.

Please register here if you would like to attend the event.


Welcome, objectives and facilitation: Quentin Marchais, Sustainable Seafood Lead, ClientEarth

Quentin Marchais, Sustainable Seafood Lead, ClientEarth

Background and context of the webinar

Pierre Karleskind, Member of the European Parliament and Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Fisheries

CATCH: The EU-wide database for seafood import catch documentation

Lil Kerhervé, Unit B4 – IUU Fisheries Policy, DG MARE, European Commission

Best practise from existing national digitised catch certificates systems

Spain and its catch certificate control system: benefits and challenges. Marta López, Chief of Unit – Intelligence Against IUU Fishing, Deputy Directorate-General of Fisheries Surveillance and Fight Against IUU, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

Germany and its catch certificate control system: benefits and challenges. Member of the German Government (TBC)

Q & A

CATCH for non-EU countries

Speaker TBC

The benefits of and expectations for CATCH for seafood companies

Anna Boulova, Secretary General, FRUCOM

Q & A

Conclusion: The modernisation of the EU catch certificate system, a stepping-stone towards global data sharing?

Katrin Vilhelm Poulsen, Senior Seafood Policy Officer, WWF European Policy Office

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