Yesterday, we reported on the EU’s decision to blacklist Belizean fish products from being imported in its countries. The EU says that Belize, along with Cambodia and Guinea, is a ‘non-cooperating third country’ in the fight against illegal fishing. The Belizean Government has responded to the bann saying,
“The Government believes that there was absolutely no justification for this action as Belize has taken all necessary steps required by the E.U’s Directorate General of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) to eradicate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.”
The release further states that the decision of the EU Council is based on outdated information and takes no account of the measures adopted by Belize within the last six months to strengthen its high seas fishing regime. Those measures include the High Seas Fishing Act which came into effect on November 8, 2013.
This Act was supplemented by the Sanctions Regulations and the Licensing Regulations, which both prescribe stringent penalties for violations. Belize also signed a contract with a South African Company, Capricorn Fisheries Monitoring, to provide On Sea Observer services for Belize flagged vessels, though this program doesn’t go into effect until April 1st of this year . In January of this year, the Commissioner for the Caribbean based in Jamaica, visited Belize to discuss the action taken by Belize to comply with the EU Regulations on IUU fishing.
The delegation met with Prime Minister Hon. Dean Barrow and according to the government press release,
The release ends by saying that while the reasons given by the EU to list Belize are no longer valid, government plans to work closely with DG MARE to implement a few other measures relating to the size of Belize’s fleet and the adoption of monitoring, control and surveillance regulations. Government says they are assured that DG MARE would then make a recommendation to the EU Council to remove Belize from the list of non-cooperating third countries, when the Council reconvenes in the next 6 months.