The European Commission said that in November 2012, the EU sent a warning to Sri Lanka saying they were not complying with international rules on illegal fishing and their control systems were inadequate.
European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki said that two years later, not much has changed and the same problems are still there and are even getting worse.
She says Sri Lanka is now authorizing huge vessels to fish in the Indian Ocean without marine GPS (VMS). This renders control totally impossible.
Damanaki said that Sri Lanka is the second biggest exporter of fresh and chilled swordfish and tuna to the EU (74 million € of imports in 2013) and in those circumstances the EU cannot tolerate not to know whether the fish they import into the EU was caught sustainably or not. She says EU citizens have the right to know what lands on their plate.
“So today, the Commission goes to the next level: we are formally identifying Sri Lanka in the fight against illegal fishing. Fisheries products caught by vessels flagged in Sri Lanka will not be able to enter the EU market after three months’ time from now. The Council will, by that time, have the possibility to confirm and extend the depth and scope of the trade measures. Of course it doesn’t end there: the Commission will continue to work closely with Sri Lanka to guide it towards a better system,” she added.
Meanwhile, the Commission has today also proposed to remove Belize from the list of non-cooperating third countries in the fight against illegal fishing and to end the trade measures imposed against the country in March 2014. Belize has demonstrated its commitment to reforming its legal framework and adopting a new set of rules for inspection, control and monitoring of vessel. The Council will take a decision in this respect.
In a similar vein, the Commission also announced the termination of steps against Belize, Fiji, Panama, Togo and Vanuatu who all received a formal warning in November 2012. (Colombo Gazette)