By Kelum Bandara
In the wake of the European Commission (EC) proposing a ban on the export of fishery products from Sri Lanka, the Fisheries Ministry said it would take adequate measures within the next three months to stop Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing by Sri Lankan vessels in international waters.
"The main weaknesses include shortcomings in the implementation of control measures and a lack of deterrent sanctions "
The EC issued a red card or warning proposing the ban on the basis that Sri Lanka had not sufficiently addressed the shortcomings in its fisheries control system identified in November 2012.
Maria Damanaki, the European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said, “The main weaknesses include shortcomings in the implementation of control measures, a lack of deterrent sanctions for the high sea fleets, as well as the lack in compliance with international and regional fisheries rules.”
According to the warning, Sri Lanka should address these shortcomings by mid-January.
Fisheries Minister Rajitha Senaratne said Sri Lanka would be able to put in place the deterrent mechanisms as stipulated by the EC within the next three months and therefore there was nothing to worry about.
The Ministry is planning to set up a Vessel Monitoring System with 50 units to be set up by November and increased to 3,000 later. A fresh amendment will be introduced to increase the fine on vessels engaged in IUU fishing.
Currently, the minimum fine stipulated in the Act is Rs.15 million which the EC said was too small to act as a deterrent.