LUXEMBOURG - The European Union agreed yesterday on tougher penalties to counter illegal fishing, considered a major cause of the depletion of fish stocks, particularly prized cod and bluefin tuna, in European waters.
The penalties include banning fishing boats after four infractions and fining member states that fail to enforce controls.
Illegal fishing has been blamed for dwindling fish populations over the past two decades, and the EU has been unable to crack down on the practice. Outdated regulations have failed to deter fishermen from landing protected fish illegally at a high profit.
Under the new rules agreed to yesterday, ships will be monitored by satellites and logs surveyed electronically to make sure that they do not overfish or bring in illegal catches.
The PEW environmental group estimated last year that the cost of illegal fishing to EU member states by 2020 will be $15 billion in lost catches and $12 billion of lost fishing stock value.