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22.2.1.  Sustainable exploitation of EU's fishery resources

    The question of equal access conditions and that of the allocation of resources between Member States formed the crux of the design and implementation of the common fisheries policy. In this field as in many others, the diverging interests of the Member States proved to be a formidable obstacle. Many of them, pushed by the 200-mile rule out of the waters in which they had traditionally fished, had to fall back on the North Sea, where overfishing had already frittered away available resources. Since the three Member States, which had acceded to the European Community in 1973 (United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark), had much vaster and richer fishery zones than the founding members, the latter jealously coveted their resources. Founding members, to shore up their claims, called upon the Community principle of equal access to and working of fishing grounds in the sea waters under the sovereignty of the Member States by boats flying the flag of one of the Member States. This principle, embodied in the 1970 Regulation establishing the policy of fishery structures, was fiercely fought by applicant States, who succeeded in winning a temporary derogation running to December 31, 1982. Hence, the European conservation and management of resources policy was first adopted in 1983 and was completely reviewed in 2002 and again in 2013 [Regulation 1380/2013 last amended by Regulation  2015/812, see section 22.2.2]. This policy covered both internal and external aspects that we examine successively.

    Aiming at the sustainable exploitation of resources, a Regulation establishes a European system to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing carried out within the territory of Member States to which the Treaty applies, within EU waters, within maritime waters under the jurisdiction or sovereignty of third countries and on the high seas [Regulation 1005/2008]. To these ends, each Member State must take appropriate measures and place sufficient means at the disposal of its competent authorities to ensure the effectiveness of the European system. They must, in particular, maintain an effective scheme of inspections in port for third country fishing vessels calling, after prior notice, at designated ports or landing facilities. The action by the Union is targeted primarily at IUU fishing which causes the most serious damage to the marine environment, the sustainability of fish stocks and the socioeconomic situation of fishermen abiding by the rules on conservation and management of fisheries resources. The EU has established a black list of vessels engaged in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing [Regulation 468/2010, last amended by Regulation 2016/1852]. The European system, thus, not only contribute to ensuring the sustainability of fish stocks but also improve the situation of European fishermen exposed to unfair competition by illegal products.

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