In its fight against illegal fishing activities worldwide, the European Commission (EC) has today proposed to ban imports of fisheries products from Sri Lanka to tackle the commercial benefits stemming from illegal fishing.
Issuing a statement, the EC said that the move comes after four years of intense dialogue with the country after which it could not demonstrate that it sufficiently addressed illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. In contrast, the Commission today confirmed that Belize, Fiji, Panama, Togo and Vanuatu, which had received warnings at the same time as Sri Lanka, have successfully taken measures to tackle illegal fishing. Consequently, the Commission proposes to lift the trade measures imposed in March this year against Belize.
European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, said: "Our policy of resolute cooperation is yielding results. 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."
According to the Commission's assessment, Sri Lanka has not sufficiently addressed the shortcomings in its fisheries control system identified in November 2012. The main weaknesses include shortcomings in the implementation of control measures, a lack of deterrent sanctions for the high seas fleet, as well as lacking compliance with international and regional fisheries rules.
As a result, the Commission tables a ban on fisheries products caught by Sri Lankan vessels being imported into the EU. In order to avoid disrupting ongoing commercial contracts, the full trade measures will only come into force in mid-January 2015, which is three months after the decision is published in the EU's Official Journal.