By introducing tighter regulation, increased control and stronger sanctions, the deal aims to prevent so-called quota kings from controlling large proportions of fishing licensing quotas issued by the state, in a move conservationist groups have called for to prevent overfishing.
“We will, to a far greater extent, achieve a fair balance in Danish fishing and help to prevent fishing falling into very, very few hands in future,” Minister for Fisheries Karen Ellemann told Ritzau.
The deal follows strong criticism by Denmark’s National Audit Office (Rigsrevisionen) and State Auditor (Statsrevisorerne) of the Ministry of Environment and Food’s administration of fishing quotas between 2003 and 2017.
New rules will ensure that outsourced fisheries are also taken into account when the quota of individual fishermen is assessed, a break from previous practice in which only official ownership was considered part of individual quotas.
The new rules will make it more difficult to own or manage excessive quotas through creative ownership constructions, writes Ritzau.
All fishing companies will also be legally obliged to register their economic involvement in other companies or individuals that own quotas, according to the agency’s report.
This will ensure that “limits are limits,” Ellemann said.
“It will no longer be possible to circumvent quota limits. Not through loopholes, cash flows or other creative acrobatics. In future, limits will be limits,” the minister told Ritzau.
The move was welcomed by ocean conservation NGO Oceana.
“Oceana welcomes the move by the Danish fisheries minister and the parliament to put an end to so-called ‘quota kings’. For too long, Danish fisheries have only been serving the interest of a handful industrial fishing companies rather than the general public. Limiting the influence of the quota kings will also be a step in the right direction to end overfishing in Denmark,” Lasse Gustavsson, executive director of Oceana in Europe, told The Local in a written response.
Ellemann added that the government would “look at” situations in which owbers of excessive quotas may be required to sell them in part.
An investigative team will also be established to ensure the rules are complied with.
“Finally, we are introducing significantly harsher penalties. That means we will discover cheating, and it will be punished in a way that can be felt,” Ellemann said to Ritzau.
Infringements will be punished by fines that are “not just small fines,” the minister said.
The various elements of the agreement will be implemented during the course of next year and are expected to be fully in place by 2019.