Kiribati has had its official warning for failing to effectively tackle illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing rescinded by the European Union following a four-and-a-half-year cooperation between the two parties to help the central Pacific Ocean nation address shortcomings in its fisheries governance.
The warning, also known as a “yellow card,” was issued to Kiribati in April 2016, with the E.U. informing the archipelagic country that it was not doing enough to combat IUU fishing. Since then, it has embarked on a series of reforms to bring its fisheries control legislation in line with international law, and the E.U. now deems it equipped to deal with illegal fishing effectively.
In close cooperation with the European Commission, Kiribati has reviewed its fisheries legal framework and established a sanctioning system to act as a strong deterrent. Supply chain traceability has also been improved with strengthened controls at ports, and the introduction of a new system of catch certification.
“I stand for zero tolerance on illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. I am therefore happy to acknowledge Kiribati's efforts in this joint fight. They have cooperated actively with the commission and addressed effectively the shortcomings in their fisheries control system, becoming a new ally in delivering healthier oceans and a level playing field for those fishers that play by the rules,” E.U. Commissioner for Environment, Oceans, and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said.
The commission's decision was based on the E.U.'s IUU Regulation, which entered into force in 2010. Its catch certification scheme ensures that only fisheries products that have been certified as legal by the flag state can access the E.U. market. Failure to cooperate in can lead to an import ban (red card) for fisheries products.
Out of the 27 warning procedures that have started since 2012 – including Ecuador, Panama, Thailand, and Taiwan – only three countries have failed to take sufficient measures to lift yellow or red cards – Cambodia, Comoros, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Kiribati has one of the most-productive tuna fishing grounds in the Pacific, which serves as one of its main sources of income. The country receives revenue collected by selling access to its waters to distant-water fishing nations.
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