Commissioner Maria Damanaki visit to Japan – Visit to Tohoku Region, affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake, and Signature of a Joint Statement against Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported fishing

Tokyo, 10th July 2012

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Akira Gunji and Commissioner Maria Damanaki


On 10 July, Commissioner Maria Damanaki visited Onagawa town in Miyagi Prefecture, which suffered heavily in the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in 2011.

On 11 July, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Akira Gunji and Commissioner Maria Damanaki signed a Joint Statement on efforts to combat Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing.

We, Akira Gunji, Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan, and Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, on behalf of the European Union, recognise the importance of combating IUU fishing and our mutual interest in strengthening our cooperation for this purpose.

IUU fishing constitutes one of the most serious threats to the conservation and sustainable exploitation of marine biological resources in the world's oceans. Japan and the European Union play a key role in the commercial exploitation of fishery products globally, both as flag States and market States. Therefore both sides bear a vast responsibility for the protection of the oceans’ vital food and marine biological resources.

IUU fishing is a global phenomenon with devastating environmental and socio-economic consequences, particularly for coastal communities in developing countries which rely on fisheries for their earnings or for nutrition. 

There are many factors causing IUU fishing. IUU fishing is best prevented through international cooperation. Both sides appreciate the progress made in Regional Fisheries Management Organisations and international organisations, such as the United Nations, in this area through the adoption of measures to combat IUU fishing. Both sides fully recognise their responsibility to ensure the adoption and implementation of effective tools for combating IUU fishing, including through control, monitoring and enforcement, and capacity management measures where appropriate.  Both sides are committed to cooperate within RFMOs to achieve these objectives. In this respect, the role of the major market States, including the USA, China, Japan and the EU, will continue to be crucial.

To this end, both sides acknowledge the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing as well as other instruments adopted at the global level to combat IUU fishing, including the FAO Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter, and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing (Port State Measures Agreement).

Both sides have already put in place legal instruments to combat IUU fishing, in particular, the Japanese Fisheries Law and the Act on Regulation of Fishing Operation by Foreign Nationals and the EU IUU Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008. Both sides recognise that voluntary cooperation and sharing of information on IUU fishing will maximise the effectiveness of these and other instruments in the global fight against IUU fishing.

Accordingly, we intend to cooperate to:

Promote the conservation and sustainable exploitation of marine biological resources;  

Support the adoption of effective tools in regional and international organisations which are designed to combat IUU fishing;

Encourage the strengthening of control, monitoring and enforcement of management measures in Regional Fisheries Management Organisations through their compliance committees; 

Underscore the importance of effective tools which are required to prevent IUU operators from benefiting from their illegal activities; 

Stress the importance of international cooperation in the global fight against IUU fishing; 

Strengthen and reinforce our bilateral cooperation in the global fight against IUU fishing, at the technical, operational and political levels;

Consider a system for the exchange of information on suspected or convicted IUU activities;

Encourage the adoption and implementation of Port State Measures, both at global and regional levels;

Work together, as a promising component of our cooperation to establish effective IUU measures, towards capacity management measures at the global scale;

Work together toward the improvement and expansion of multilateral catch documentation and certification requirements, including electronic schemes, for the purpose of enhancing global traceability of fishery products;

Work with other major market States to further strengthen the efforts described in the Joint Statement.

Commissioner Maria Damanaki and Onegawa Fishermen

Tokyo, 11 July 2012