Vessel being suspicious of performing illegal fishing activities. (Photo Credit: NOAA)
Brussels' 'non-cooperating third country' decision causes surprise
Thursday, December 05, 2013, 02:20 (GMT + 9)
The European Commission's (EC) decision to formally identify Belize as a ‘non-cooperating third country’ in the struggle against illegal fishing has been received with surprise by the local government.
Through an official communication, Belize government stressed Brussels' announcement follows a written communication addressed to the EU Commissioner, Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries reaffirming the country’s commitment “to fully cooperate with the EU to eradicate the scourge of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.”
Apart from Belize, which currently has a fleet of 128 fishing vessels landing their fish at the European Union ports, this list of third countries not offering cooperation also includes Cambodia and Guinea.
Besides the above mentioned letter, a delegation from the country met with the EU Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries at the beginning of November to assure their collaboration with the EU to control illegal fishing on the high seas.
Furthermore, in early November an act came into force, High Seas Fishing Act, to correct the deficiencies pointed out by the EU in their infrastructure for the control of IUU fishing, which the EC considered as "a first important step in setting up a new legislative framework ensuring the proper follow up of IUU activities in the high seas".
Belize government expressed further measures are intended to be taken in order to grant their collaboration and ensure sustainable fishing activities.
Some of these measures include setting Sanctions Regulations to prescribe deterrent penalties imposed on Belize flagged vessels for illegal activities on the high seas and setting up a fisheries monitoring center, an onsite observer programme and a national Plan of Action for IUU.
In addition, Belize intends to require the reassessment control mechanism for high seas fisheries by the EU early next year and has welcomed the EU’s assurance that while while any decision relating to IUU fishing will impact fisheries trade ‘the measures will not impact any other aspect of economic trade with Belize and the EU’.
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