Illegal, unreported, and unregulated Turkish fishing activity off Cyprus needs to be addressed by the EU, said European Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius.
He said Brussels and EU member states fully back Cyprus when it comes to Turkish activities.
Sinkevičius was speaking during the Agriculture and Fisheries Council, which took place via videoconference, on Monday.
The Council discussed a proposal by the European Commission towards more sustainable fishing in the EU.
Cyprus Minister of Agriculture Costas Kadis said that Turkey operates illegally in EU waters in the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkish vessels have been spotted fishing red tuna inside Cypriot the territorial waters and within the county’s exclusive economic zone.
Kadis said this was being done “illegally and without permission from Cyprus or the EU”.
He said the Turkish activity violates the sovereign rights of Cyprus, freedom of fishing and customary international law while undermining efforts to promote equal competition.
Several times during the last few years, Turkish patrol boats have harassed and prevented Cypriot-flagged vessels from operating within Cyprus’ maritime zones and in the open sea, said Kadis.
“There have been also incidents, where the Turkish occupation forces captured Cypriot-flagged fishing boats and arrested the crew.”
“Cypriot fishing boats have also been harassed on several occasions by the Turkish research vessel Barbaros or by its support vessels, damaging fishing equipment and forcing crews to cease operations.”
Kadis stressed the need to monitor fishing activity in the Eastern Mediterranean tighter and said that collective efforts at the EU level were necessary.
The EU addresses Turkey’s unilateral and illegal actions that affect Cyprus’ jurisdiction, said Sinkevičius in his closing remarks.
“The European Commission and EU member states fully support Cyprus.”