EC warns PNG, Philippines over IUU fishing

The European Commission is continuing its campaign against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing with a new warning against the Philippines and Papua New Guinea, which the commission charges are not doing enough to stop it.

The commission said it was issuing a “yellow card” warning that the two nations risked being identified as “countries it considers non-cooperative in the fight against IUU fishing.”

The commission issued similar warnings last year to Belize, Cambodia and Guinea, following up with seafood trade bans against those countries. The commission has hinted that other countries would face similar warnings and possible trade bans in the future.

The commission charged that Papua New Guinea and the Philippines don’t have a sanctions system of their own to deal with IUU activity, nor do they have plans to address “deficiencies” in monitoring or otherwise controlling fisheries. The commission has given both countries six months to improve, after which the commission “could take further steps,” which could lead to trade sanctions.

"If half of the Western Pacific's tuna is exported to the EU, we cannot ignore illegal fishing activities in this region,” said Maria Damanaki, European commissioner for maritime affairs and fisheries. “I urge the Philippines and Papua New Guinea to fight this practice which puts the livelihoods of fishermen at risk.”

The move drew praise from environmental groups, including the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF).

“The Philippines and Papua New Guinea now have an important opportunity to make rapid reforms to avoid receiving trade sanctions, said Steve Trent, EJF’s executive director. “They must make legal and regulatory changes that will send fishing operators a clear message that they cannot continue to degrade fish stocks, the wider marine environment and the livelihoods of coastal communities.”

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) answered critics who say the commission is unfairly picking on smaller or poorer nations.

“This is not an exercise in singling out nations but rather, an exercise in enforcing effective implementation of international fishing laws and regulations,” said Eszter Hidas, EU policy lead for WWF’s Transparent Seas Project. “There must be consequences for those who continually avoid playing by the rules. The yellow card as in football provides a last chance to play a fair game or otherwise get kicked off the pitch.”


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