Commercial fishermen breaking European Union rules will lose their licence. The fisheries ministers have agreed on a new system to deter overfishing. It starts next year. Those caught ignoring the limits will rack up points against them. With five points they risk losing their licences permanently.
After long talks in Luxembourg, the Fisheries Commissioner, Joe Borg, summed up: “I am delighted to say that we reached an agreement on the harmonisation of sanctions which need to act as a deterrent and which need to be linked to the financial advantage gained from the infringements of the rules. We have also agreed on a new penalty points system which can result in the withdrawal of fishing licences in the event of a number of repeated infringements.” Countries that fail to enforce the new system could lose EU funding for modernising their industries, and could have their quotas cut. Overfishing will still be tolerated, but the margin has been reduced to 10 percent of quota from 20. Critics complained this meant continued acceptance of cheating.