By now, we have a clear view of what the issues are and we need to close ranks to tackle them. And I am grateful that we have such committed allies in our fight against illegal fishing. NGOs help us in raising public awareness about this issue, as well as in detecting IUU fishing: their help has been important take action against several vessels having infringed the laws of Sierra Leone and other African coastal States. We launched numerous investigation proceedings and, also in close cooperation with the NGOs, we have already obtained concrete results against IUU fishing activities in West Africa. Indeed, several African coastal States have taken administrative sanctions against foreign vessels having operated illegally within their waters. Overall, we have looked into more than 100 cases of presumed IUU fishing.
And the retail industry has a crucial role too. They are key in educating consumers, taking their hand to choose sustainable products. Their collaboration in putting on the shelves products under sustainable labels is essential.
Two years ago, our EU IUU legislation entered into force. We have equipped ourselves with an effective tool to prevent illegally-fished products from reaching our market. With the help of NGOs and of the industry, we are creating a culture of compliance. The US has moved along the same lines with its own legislation. I’m convinced that by working together for a zero-tolerance approach at all levels and by further developing this culture of compliance, we can change the world of fishing.
However, no matter how much progress we make domestically in the USA or the EU, if some of our neighbours keep plundering the seas. The only way to tackle this effectively is for the main market powers to join forces. Concerted international action is exactly what we have set out to do. After the Joint Statement on the fight against IUU signed with the US last year, the EU intends to sign another one with Japan in July. Tomorrow, Dr Lubchenco and I will speak to representatives of 15 Regional Fisheries Management Organisations, to discuss future actions and compliance mechanisms that we should promote.
We are active on many fronts and the number of allies is growing: all together, we can eradicate this international scourge!