Letter to EU Commissioner: Request to include Russian seafood and fishing vessels in upcoming sanctions

The 1st of September 2022, thirteen NGOs including Good Fish, wrote a letter to the Directorate-General of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. This letter was a petition to include Russian seafood and fishing vessels in upcoming EU sanctions. Four main points which were discussed was the economic value of seafood exports for the Russian economy, the lack of cooperation from Russia on sustainable fisheries management, the high risk of IUU fishing from Russian operators and finally, the urgent need of the EU to transition towards a nature-positive, carbon-neutral future.

To date, the European Union has banned Russian caviar and substitutes, and some shellfish. This however represents a low volume of imports and Good Fish, along with thirteen NGOs, believes the EU should expand the scope of its sanctions.

Risks of increase of illegal fish

Russia’s war of aggression on Ukraine has brought into sharp relief multiple fundamental issues with the sustainability of trade and economic ties between Russia and the EU. Russian imports by the EU are significant and have great economic value for Russia’s economy.  While Russian fleets also have access to ports and fishing authorizations within Europe, there are some serious concerns about the sustainability of its catches. Russia is ranked second out of 152 for poor performance regarding effectively fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. In addition, most of Russia’s overall fish catch is unassessed and it has been estimated that half of the assessed stocks are overfished.

Ban import fish originating from Russia

As a result, the letter signed by Good Fish requests to ban the import of all fish and seafood originating from Russia, or caught by Russian-flagged or Russian-owned vessels. Furthermore, the request extends to refusing the access of Russian-flagged and Russian-owned fishing vessels into EU waters and ports.

Effectivity and awareness

Certain conditions for the effectiveness of such sanction were also included in the letter. For instance, a digital traceability system should be set up to ensure that EU authorities and Member States possess all the information needed to ban products from IUU. Abundance of European fish populations should also be ensured to reduce the EU’s dependance on Russian fish supplies.
This letter hopefully fulfills its goal in raising awareness and influencing EU policy on such a delicate and important issue.

The full letter can be found here : https://seas-at-risk.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/20220901_NGO-letter-on-RU_FINAL.pdf