European Commission seeks Sri Lanka IUU trade ban


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
October 15, 2014

The European Commission is proposing to remove Belize from the EU’s list of countries that are not doing enough to fight Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, but at the same time is calling for a ban on imports of fisheries products to the EU from Sri Lanka, accusing that country of inaction on the same issue.

The commission, in a statement, said officials have tried working with Sri Lanka for the past four years, but “it could not demonstrate that it sufficiently addressed IUU fishing.”

At the same time, in addition to Belize, the commission announced the nations of Fiji, Togo, Panama and Vanuatu have shown they have taken action to stop IUU fishing.

"Our policy of resolute cooperation is yielding results,” said Maria Damanaki, European commissioner for maritime affairs and fisheries. “Five countries receive today our appreciation for getting serious on illegal fishing. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for Sri Lanka. I hope that the message we are sending today will be a wake-up call for this country."

The commission accused Sri Lanka of not implementing control measures, not establishing deterrent sanctions and noncompliance with international and regional fisheries regulations. The commission is proposing a ban on imports of fisheries products caught by Sri Lankan vessels. If confirmed, the ban will not take effect until mid-January 2015.

The commission has also proposed to lift trade sanctions established against Belize in March of this year, based on progress the country has made in addressing IUU fishing problems.

"The improvements Belize made as regards its fisheries control system since its 'red card' show that the EU's fight against illegal fishing works,” Damanaki said. “The formalized cooperation with the EU has helped the country to move toward sustainable fisheries. The same goes for Fiji, Panama, Togo and Vanuatu. These countries' positive attitude should serve as a template to other countries in similar situations."

The announcement drew praise from nonprofit environmental activist group Greenpeace.

“Many EU-based companies invest and maintain joint fishing operations with companies and vessels registered in countries which are weak on fisheries governance,” said Saskia Richartz, Greenpeace’s EU oceans policy director. “The EU should do more to identify and prevent investments into fishing activities that are unsustainable, unequitable or even illegal.”

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