European Commission (EC) is urging European countries to impose trade sanction on Belize over illegal fishing, while warning Curacao that it may be next. The EC also urged European Union governments to hit Cambodia and Guinea with the sanctions, cautioning South Korea and Ghana that they, too, may be next in line.
The EU executive called for action against Belize, noting that no “credible progress” has been made since hitting it with the so-called “yellow cards” last year.
“Once placed on an official list of non-cooperating countries in the fight against illegal fishing, related products from those territories will find themselves all-but shut out of the EU market of half a billion consumers,” the EU said in a statement.
The Commission also flagged up a new round of “yellow cards”, which puts key free-trade partner Curacao under mounting pressure to meet international obligations.
“West Africa was identified as a major source of illegal fishing, and my intention is now take the same thorough approach in the Pacific,” said EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki.
Damanaki told reporters that, for South Korea, Ghana and Curacao, “this is not about EU legislation, we are implementing international rules.
“We are very much willing to give them more time,” she said, adding that the “right to fish as they want” had to be set against the EU's “right to protect consumers”.
The EU said at least 15% of all landings around the world were done illegally, between 11 and 16 million tons each year, with international rules agreed in 2001 routinely flouted.
It said five countries made “sufficient progress” this year to avoid being expelled from EU markets at least until March next year: Fiji, Panama, Sri Lanka, Togo and Vanuatu.
The EU said it imports 65% of its fishing consumption.
Campaigners Greenpeace said the decisions announced would “motivate all six countries to improve fisheries management and help create a better future for their seas and fishermen