PH may face import ban over illegal fishing
The Philippines, one of the world’s biggest fishing nations, is in danger of facing an import ban from the European Union, the world’s biggest fish importer, if it fails to curb illegal fishing.
This came after the European Commission announced on Tuesday that it has decided to issue a “yellow card” against the Philippines after the country failed to fulfill its duties as flag, coastal, port or market state in line with international law, such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) or United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement.
The EU has taken a decision which highlights areas where the Philippines is not yet doing enough to fight illegal fishing. It identifies certain shortcomings, such as lack of actions to address deficiencies in monitoring, controlling and surveillance of fisheries, and suggests corrective actions to resolve them.
The decision will not, at this stage, entail any measures affecting trade.
However, if the Philippines fail to ensure the sustainable use of the sea and its resources than the Commission said, it may take certain trade measures including a ban on the country from selling fisheries products to the 28-nation EU.
In a statement, European Commissioner Maria Damanaki, in charge of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries stressed that what the Commission issued “is not a black list, but a yellow card.”
“We want the Philippines as partner to combat illegal fishing,” Damanaki, said. “We want the country to improve its legal and control systems as required by international rules. But we also want to signal to the world that the EU will not tolerate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing – a criminal activity which undermines the livelihood of fishing communities and depletes fish stocks. It must be eradicated by all means.”
In the light of the dependence of Philippine coastal communities on fisheries, he said the EU is keen to cooperate with the Philippines to help ensure the sustainability of their livelihood and global fisheries.
The Commission’s decision, the third of its kind, is a result of a thorough analysis by taking into account the country’s level of development.
It follows a long period of informal discussions that started in 2012. The decision starts a formal procedure of dialogue and cooperation with the Philippines aimed at solving the established shortcomings.
The position will be reviewed in six months time to see if the Philippines have made enough progress on action plans drawn up by the EU, the Commission said.
The EU imported fish worth 165 million euros (around P9.8 billion) from the Philippines in 2013.
In March, the EU banned fish imports from Belize, Cambodia and Guinea for “acting insufficiently against illegal fishing.”
The Commission similarly warned Panama, Fiji, Togo, Sri Lanka and Vanuatu in 2012 and South Korea, Ghana and Curacao in 2013 but said Tuesday most of these countries had “cooperated constructively” with Brussels.
Illegal fishing is estimated to account for 15 percent of the world catch annually, with the EU importing about 65 percent of its seafood.