Latest round of IUU red and yellow cards issued by the European Commission
By Sara Lewis
Continuing its efforts to fight against illegal unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing worldwide, the European Commission has taken numerous actions since last October to target nations that are not fulfilling their duties to fight IUU fishing in accordance with international law.
In October of 2014 the EU issued a “red card” to Sri Lanka, banning imports of their fisheries products effective January 14th, and after four years of intense dialogue with the country. The Commission took this step after Sri Lanka failed to demonstrate that it had sufficiently addressed IUU fishing by implementing international law obligations, implementing an adequate vessel monitoring program, complying with the recommendations and resolutions of the regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs), and failing to appropriately sanction violations among their high seas fleet.
Then in December of 2014 the Commission announced it was issuing IUU “yellow cards” to a further four nations citing:
Solomon Islands — due to weak traceability and catch certification system
Tuvalu — for a lack of control of the fishing activities taking place in its sovereign waters
Saint Kitts and Nevis — for a lack of control of fishing activities by its flagged vessels
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines — for a lack of control of the fishing activities by its flagged vessels
The issuance of yellow cards is a warning to these nations, but does not include any sanctions or trade measures. The Commission will instead begin to formally cooperate with these countries, giving them six months to take steps to amend their legal framework to combat IUU fishing, improve monitoring and control of fishing activities, and bring themselves into alignment with their international obligations. If improvements are made the four countries could be given “green cards” as was the case with Fiji, Vanuatu, Panama and Togo in October, 2014.
In the face of this latest round of yellow-cards Thailand is working to avoid being next. The EU has warned Thailand they might issue them a yellow card in February, prompting the Thai Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives to devise plans to address traceability, fishing vessel registration and tracking, new fishing licensing and monitoring programs.