On September 20th, 2023 ClientEarth and LIFE lawyers were in The Hague administrative court in a hearing against the Dutch Food and Consumer Safety Authority (NVWA) for failing to properly check the fish landings in their ports. The NVWA lack the resources to do their jobs, including investigating violations of EU fisheries control rules.
In court yesterday, the NVWA refused yet again to investigate concrete violations that we had warned them of. These breaches include failure to properly weigh the fish landed, ships switching off the geopositioning tracker, industrial vessels discarding huge quantities of fish, and the lack of compliance with the obligation to land all catches in ports.
These failures encourage fraud, turning a blind eye to overfishing, and the possibility of the larger scale vessel fleet – including super trawlers – overshooting their quotas. As a result significant quantities of caught illegal fish could be entering the EU market or being discarded at sea. The potential impacts of this include affecting the marine environment and the future of SSF, depriving them of a fair share of quotas. We are therefore urging the Dutch government to enforce EU fisheries control laws and to take action against fraud and overfishing.
ClientEarth lawyer Nils Courcy said:
“Today in court, the NVWA refused again to investigate concrete violations that we had warned them of. These breaches include failure to properly weigh the fish landed, ships switching off the geopositioning tracker, industrial vessels discarding huge quantities of fish, or lack of compliance with the obligation to land all catches in ports.We want to make sure these violations stop, but it is the authority’s job to carry out these checks and investigate suspicious activities. This is key to avoid overfishing and prevent huge quantities of illegal fish from entering the market.
“We are asking the Dutch authorities to enforce the law and improve fisheries control activities in the Netherlands. Without this, there can be no such thing as sustainable fisheries.”
Brian O’Riordan, Policy Advisor at LIFE said: “Illegal fishing and fish fraud affect us all by undermining sustainability and putting our fisheries at risk. Small-scale fishers are particularly impacted by such activities that both deplete the resources on which they depend, and also depress market prices. It is therefore vital that the Netherlands and other EU member states have a properly functioning control system in place to prevent illegal fishing and fraudulent practices. This is currently not the case”.
A judgement is expected in early November.
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