The European Commission has congratulated Fiji on its successful measures to address illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing through legal reforms and new rules for inspection, control and monitoring of vessels – all of which have now resulted in the European Commission’s withdrawal of its formal warning against Fiji.
Fiji received a formal warning or a “yellow card” from the EU in November 2012. Fiji has subsequently taken concrete measures to address IUU challenges and has shown commitment to complete structural reforms in order to counter illegal fishing. Inaction could have ultimately resulted in fish from Fiji being excluded from the European Union market.
Announcing the lifting of the “yellow card” from Fiji and four other countries, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, said in Brussels: “Our policy of resolute cooperation is yielding results.”
EU Ambassador for the Pacific, Andrew Jacobs said: “I congratulate Fiji on its proactive attitude and successful reforms to tackle illegal fishing. Since receiving its “yellow card” from the European Commission in 2012, Fiji has worked very constructively with the EU and has made significant improvements to its systems by adopting new legislation and improving its monitoring, control and inspection of fishing activities. I am also pleased to say that the European Union has worked closely with Fiji through our co-operation with regional agencies such the Forum Fisheries Agency which implements our DEVFISH2 programme.”
“Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing depletes fish stocks, destroys marine habitats, distorts competition, puts honest fishers at an unfair disadvantage, and weakens coastal communities, particularly in developing countries. The EU import 65% of the fish it consumes. It is therefore essential to ensure that fish entering into the EU market has been caught in a sustainable way and in full compliance with relevant international, regional and national conservation and management measures,” Ambassador Jacobs said.
The estimated global value of IUU fishing is approximately F$24 billion per year. Between 11 and 26 million tonnes of fish are caught illegally each year, which corresponds to at least 15% of the world’s catches. Since 2010, the European Commission has investigated more than 200 cases involving vessels from 27 countries. As a direct consequence of these actions, sanctions against almost 50 vessels, amounting roughly to F$19.4 million have been imposed by the states concerned.