Subject_Increasing transparency regarding European fishing vessels using flags of convenience

Subject: Increasing transparency regarding European fishing vessels using flags of convenience

Sierra Leone has recently taken a global lead in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing by closing its international shipping registry to foreign-owned fishing vessels, and thereby ending its status as a ‘flag of convenience’ country. The Sierra Leone Government took this decision on the grounds that it was unable to adequately regulate foreign-owned vessels flying the Sierra Leone flag, whilst complying with its international obligations regarding fisheries management. This decision was reinforced by the fact that the government has also faced difficulties in tackling IUU fishing within its Inshore Exclusion Zone (IEZ) and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Given that a significant number of nationals of EU Member States continue to own or have interests in fishing vessels that fly ‘flags of convenience’, which obscure the beneficial ownership of those vessels and often fail to adequately regulate their activities, the Commission is asked the following:

1. Has the Commission been informed about any action that has been taken by Member States to encourage nationals to notify any information pertaining to legal, beneficial or financial interests in fishing vessels flagged to third countries and the names of the vessels concerned as required by Article 40 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008 establishing a Community system to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing? And, if so, can the Commission report on these actions?

2. What action is the Commission willing to take if Member States do not encourage nationals to provide this information?