EU observers visit yellow-carded Panama to verify fisheries compliance
European Union officials recently conducted a visit to Panama to investigate the country’s progress in making fishery reforms requested by the E.U. in its issuance of a yellow card to the Central American country in 2019.
Panama Aquatic Resources Authority (ARAP) Secretary General Carlos Castro said the country has achieved 75 percent of the requirements requested by the E.U., which include updating its 1960’s-era fisheries law and clamping down on illegal fishing.
"In 2019, we received a visit from the members of the European Union. During that visit, they reached conclusions that Panama did not comply with the requirements that had been raised in previous visits and they gave us a list of recommendations and demands that they ask for so that we can guarantee that the seafood or aquatic resource that we are exporting is reliable,” Castro said. “One of the first points was to update our legislation, but we have done many other things at the same time, such as working on traceability. It is important that the consumer feels sure that what they are consuming is fish [from] places where fishing is not prohibited.”
Castro said the visit a detailed briefing on Panama’s updated fisheries law and additional fisheries-related regulations set to be finalized by February 2022.
"The Aquatic Resources Authority of Panama has put together a plan to continue taking care of international markets, to continue supporting [producers] and the national and international fishermen who [use] our flag or our waters,” he told RPC Radio Castro, according to Telemetro. “We have a new law on fisheries and aquaculture and we are in the regulatory process [of passing more controls].”
Panama’s new fisheries law includes beefed-up fines for illegal fishing, ranging up to USD 200,000 (EUR 177,000) for the most-serious offenses.
Panama previously received an E.U. yellow card – an initial warning that precedes a full seafood import ban – in 2012 for inadequate monitoring of its fishing fleets, neglecting to impose sanctions on illegal operators, and failing to develop robust fisheries laws. That yellow card was rescinded in 2014, after it introduced legislation that resulted in improvements to monitoring, control, and inspection of fishing activities.
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