Official Journal: European Court of Auditors special report on EU action to combat IUU fishing

6 OCTOBER 2022

The Special report 20/2022 ‘EU action to combat illegal fishing – Control systems in place but weakened by uneven checks and sanctions by Member States’ by the European Court of Auditors was published in the Official Journal on 27.9.2022 .

According to this report, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing controls involve Member States checking fishing activity by their flagged fleets, and in their waters. However, auditors found that national checks often detected instances of illegal fishing, and misreporting of catches is the most common infringement by the EU fleet, followed by fishing in closed areas or with no quota allocation, and using illegal gear.

Furthermore, the auditors found ample evidence that enforcing the landing obligation is a challenge, and that illegal discards at sea persist. They also found that the EU-funded projects they audited had helped to reinforce the fisheries control system.

Lack of a level playing field across the EU on sanctions for violations was an issue, with auditors noting that the average fine imposed for a similar infringement ranged from around €200 (Cyprus, Lithuania, and Estonia) to more than €7 000 (Spain). Subsequently, in some Member States, sanctions were not dissuasive enough to deter illegal fishing, because they were not proportionate to the economic benefit derived from the infringements.

In conclusion, the auditors recommend that the Commission should work on the uniform and effective application of a dissuasive sanctioning system. Also, the application of penalty-point system across Member States should be harmonised.

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Contact: Lebo Mofolo,