European Commission issues yellow card to Senegal over lack of action against IUU

A group of fishermen in Senegal
The European Commission hit the African nation of Senegal with a yellow card, accusing it of failing to adequately combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing | Photo courtesy of Salvador Aznar/Shutterstock
2 Min

The European Commission has issued a yellow card to Senegal, requesting the country step up its actions against illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. 

A yellow card is the first step that the European Union takes when it identifies a country as not fully handling international obligations to fight against IUU fishing activities. The yellow card serves as a warning and initiates a formal dialogue between the commission and the country. If those dialogues don’t produce any changes, the commission then may issue a red card, resulting in a ban on the country's seafood products from being imported into the European Union.

The commission has issued a number of yellow cards in the past to such countries as Vietnam, Panama, and Thailand. It has also issued red cards, including one to Sri Lanka in 2012 that was later rescinded, and most recently to Trinidad and Tobago in November 2023. 

The commission identified deficiencies in the monitoring, control, and surveillance systems of vessels flying the Senegalese flag. It also found that it lacks sufficient controls at the port of Dakar, allowing foreign fishing vessels to escape scrutiny.

“In addition, illegal exportations from Senegal to the E.U. market have been detected, which undermines the reliability of the traceability system upon which the certification of the legality of the fisheries products is based,” the European Commission wrote. “Finally, Senegal has so far not demonstrated sufficient willingness to cooperate with the European Commission in fighting IUU fishing.”

The commission has been using the carding system since 2012, and since that time, only eight countries have been red carded – with three of those instances ending in delisting within two years. 

As of May 2024, Cambodia, Cameroon, the Comoros, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago have active red cards in place.

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