Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs. (Photo: Correctprofile / CC BY-SA 3.0)
NGOs applaud suspension of fish imports from Sri Lanka
Fisheries Ministers of the European Union (EU) agreed in Brussels to punish Sri Lanka for not fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, imposing trade restrictions upon it.
Several NGOs, among which are Environmental Justice Foundation, Oceana, The Pew Charitable Trusts and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), welcomed the decision taken by the Ministers, which temporarily suspended imports of fish from Sri Lanka.
In addition, the issuance of a “red card” to Sri Lanka implies that the EU fishing vessels shall not operate in waters of that country.
The NGOs argue that Sri Lanka did not make adequate monitoring of its fishing fleet, it failed to punish guilty IUU fishing ships and did not develop a strong fisheries legislation to discourage the practice.
“We encourage Sri Lanka to implement measures to deter its IUU fishing vessels or those mooring in its ports,” said Tony Long, Pew representative.
It also offered the support of this organization to the Government of Sri Lanka to help fight IUU fishing, particularly as it relates to implementing stronger measures at its ports and tracking its boats, Europa Press reported.
On the other hand, Andreas Baumüller, from WWF, said the European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, should be commended for having put forward this measure to the Commission.
“We not only call to maintain these efforts but to further reinforce this groundbreaking legislation in the EU,” he said.
In November 2012, Sri Lanka and other seven countries were punished with a ‘yellow card’ of the European Commission (EC).
Among the eight countries warned, five were excluded from this list for their efforts in combating IUU fishing, while the other three remain in the red list and will remain so until their governments take a decisive measure.
The Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka, Mangala Samaraweera, began an official visit to Brussels on Monday, where he will meet with members of the EU to negotiate a postponement of the suspension of fish exports to the EU market.