EU blacklists Sri Lanka over illegal fishing

Date: January 26, 2015

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune
Author: Lorne Cook (AP)

The European Union blacklisted Sri Lanka Monday for failing to combat illegal fishing, officially banning imports of fisheries products from Sri Lanka-flagged vessels into the EU.

Officials said the decision to put Sri Lanka on the list was taken by EU fisheries ministers at their regular talks in Brussels.

Sri Lanka is the second biggest exporter of swordfish and tuna into the EU. The bloc said it only accepts stocks caught at sustainable levels and certified as legal by the exporting country.

The EU already warned Sri Lanka about breaking international rules on illegal fishing in November 2012.

Brussels accuses its government of allowing huge vessels to fish the Indian Ocean without marine satellite positioning equipment, making it virtually impossible to monitor their movements.

Environmental groups welcomed the trade restrictions, noting that the move would also prohibit EU fishing vessels from working in Sri Lankan waters.

“We encourage Sri Lanka to put the measures in place to dissuade illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing by their vessels, or by vessels landing in their ports,” said Tony Long, from The Pew Charitable Trusts.

The EU slapped similar restrictions on Belize in March 2014 and removed them in December after the Latin American country adopted new legislation to combat illegal fishing and showed signs that it was respecting its international obligations.

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