The European Union issued new warnings regarding fishing practices in Kiribati, Sierra Leone and Trinidad and Tobago last week. In Kiribati, the EU is concerned about the country’s capacity to keep control over fishing capacities by foreign fleets. Brussels says that it has reasons to be concerned that there are major risks of illegal fishing and of laundering illegal catch through the ports of Kiribati. The concerns stem from the fact that the country does not have a robust system that traces fisheries products. Kiribati is generally seen as reluctant to share information on third country vessels in their territorial waters, which undermines the Commission’s efforts to improve sustainability of tuna resources in the Western and Central Pacific as well as boost transparency of Kiribati’s fisheries governance.
In Trinidad and Tobago, authorities likewise do not control or inspect foreign ships nor cooperate with relevant flag States. The country also suffers from laundering of fisheries products and has a poor traceability system. In contrast, in Sierra Leone, the Commission says, fisheries governance is outdated and it fails to deter illegal operators that use the country’s flag to fish illegally in international waters without the authorities’ knowledge. On top of its negative feedback, the Commission has also formulated a proposal for these countries to help them identify the problematic issues.
The EU executive has proposed a tailor-made action plan to help these countries implement robust fisheries management control. If the issues are not improved within half a year, the Commission will consider taking further steps including restrictions on fisheries imports. On a more positive note, the Commission has also relaxed its restrictions against Sri Lanka, which has significantly improved the management of its fisheries. Brussels confirmed that country successfully reformed its fisheries governance system, improved fleet control and amended relevant legal framework.