Today European Union States voted, in a historic decision, to officially Blacklist Belize, banning the importation of Fish and fish products into those countries. The bann, which is the first of its kind for the EU, means that Boats flying the Belize flag cannot export to the 28 states of the EU.
Also, EU vessels cannot operate in Belizean waters. International NGOs praised the decision made today as historic, but warn that a loophole in the regulation means non-EU vessels fishing in the banned countries’ waters can still export their catches to member states. This means that Belize will still get to export shrimp to the EU, but this is considered a loophole. .
Belize has 128 registered fishing vessels, about 20 of them fish in the Atlantic Ocean and sell to European Union states. Belize was blacklisted today along with Guinea and Cambodia for not complying with International Fishing laws to prevent illegal fishing.
Eight nations had been warned in late 2012 but Panama, Fiji, Togo, Sri Lanka and Vanuatu — had made significant progress. Belize Government had stated in November of last year that it intended to ask the EU for a reassessment of Belize’s control mechanism with a view to come off the list of non-cooperating third countries.
PM Barrow had indicated in an Interview that last June’s takeover of the International Merchant Marine Registry had gone far to address the problem. Prime Minister had said, “We are absolutely confident that one way or another, we will whip this thing into shape and be able to, in fact, get the imprimatur of the European Union.”
Today’s bann shows that the European Union remains unconvinced.