Fighting illegal fishing: Warnings for Kiribati, Sierra Leone and Trinidad & Tobago, while Sri Lanka is delisted

Date: April 21, 2016

Source & Author:  The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), Oceana, The Pew Charitable Trusts and WWF

Reaction from the NGO’s on new third country cardings from European Commission:
The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), Oceana, The Pew Charitable Trusts and WWF are working together to secure the harmonised and effective implementation of the EU Regulation to end illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

European Commission – Press Release

The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), Oceana, The Pew Charitable Trusts and WWF are working together to secure the harmonised and effective implementation of the EU Regulation to end illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Steve Trent, Executive Director of the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF): “It is vital that Sierra Leone, Kiribati and Trinidad and Tobago recognise the importance of combating IUU fishing and make sure their yellow cards are a turning point. Across the world, other States have responded to yellow cards with essential reforms that have helped make IUU fishing more difficult and less profitable. If these States do the same it will be a big step forward for their fishing industries and those that depend on them for jobs and food security.”

María José Cornax, Fisheries Campaign Director of Oceana: “The progress made in fisheries management and control by the countries that have had their yellow or red card removed shows that ever since the start of these listings in 2012 the EU system remains one the most effective to achieve real change in the fight against IUU”.

Tony Long, Director of the ending illegal fishing Project, The Pew Charitable Trusts: “Under Commissioner Vella’s leadership the EU continues to demonstrate a strong commitment to ending illegal fishing by promoting the kinds of practices that keep illicit product out of the marketplace,” said Tony Long, director of The Pew Charitable Trusts ending illegal fishing project. A yellow card cautions a country that its laws and practices don’t go far enough to combat illegal fishing. Since this type of warning does not automatically limit a nation’s trade prospects, it provides impetus for government officials to enact real change.”

Eszter Hidas, EU Policy Officer, Illegal fishing, WWF, “This announcement by the Commission should be seen an opportunity, not a threat. As we have witnessed in previous cases, a yellow card from the EU can give a tremendously powerful political push to governments to take action. Sierra Leone, Kiribati and Trinidad and Tobago have until now, for one reason or another, not addressed their gaps in fisheries control and management, and we urge them to rectify this now. The Commission should provide all necessary support to these countries to facilitate their reforms”.

 — END —

Notes to editors:

  • Coalition supports the European Commission’s decision to yellow card or pre-identify Kiribati, Sierra Leone and Trinidad and Tobago as non-cooperating countries in the fight against IUU fishing.
  • Coalition welcomes the Commission’s decision to delist Sri Lanka and expects Sri Lanka to continue to take action to effectively combat IUU fishing.
  • This carding process is aimed at ensuring that fish products entering the EU market come from legal sources. More than 60% of seafood products consumed in the EU are imported from outside of the EU, increasing to 90% when it comes to white fish.
  • A yellow card means that, after extensive bilateral discussions with the European Commission, the country has not proven to have effective measures in place to combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, and comply with international fisheries laws. A yellow card is not associated with any sanctions, but is a step towards potentially being granted a red card unless the country concerned takes resolute action. Amongst other measures, a red card results in exclusion of the carded country’s seafood from the EU market.
  • The EU’s carding process is having a significant positive impact in non-EU countries, incentivizing a host of improvements in fisheries management and control systems. By the end of September 2015, the EU had engaged with almost 50 non-EU countries seeking improvements in measures to combat IUU fishing.
  • With this decision, the European Commission has demonstrated true leadership in the global fight against IUU fishing through its enforcement of the EU IUU Regulation, by cooperating with and supporting third countries to strengthen their measures to prevent and deter IUU fishing:
  • Coalition encourages:
    • Commissioner Vella to continue this effort and leadership, including via strengthening relationships with other key market states; and
    • Kiribati, Sierra Leone and Trinidad and Tobago to swiftly take the necessary measures to combat IUU fishing in their waters, and by their fleets.
  • Coalition also calls on the European Commission to continue increasing transparency and interaction with key stakeholders to enrich the carding process as much as possible. The carding process should continue to be applied equally to any state not effectively combatting IUU fishing.
  • The Environmental Justice Foundation, Oceana, The Pew Charitable Trusts and WWF are working together to secure the harmonized and effective implementation of the EU Regulation to deter IUU fishing.
  • The coalition recognizes some of the efforts made by Thailand to address the gaps in their fisheries management and control regime that the EU identified during its decision to grant a yellow card. However, more changes and reforms are required, and the coalition looks forward to seeing further progress in this regard.


Sierra Leone

  • Sierra Leone’s 155,700 km² Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is host to valuable marine fisheries including species of shrimp, cephalopods, lobster, small pelagics (bonga), large pelagics (tuna spp.) and demersals (croakers, snappers, groupers). Foreign vessels carry out the vast majority of industrial fishing in Sierra Leone’s waters[1], including vessels from the EU, mainland China, Russia, South Korea and Taiwan[2]. Industrial fisheries mainly exploit demersal stocks and shrimp, with by-catches of pelagics in the trawl fishery.[3]
  • Seafood represents around 80% of total animal protein consumed in Sierra Leone.[4] The fisheries sector contributes 8% of Sierra Leone’s GDP[5], with an estimated 230,000 people directly employed in fisheries in the country[6].
  • The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR) estimates that Sierra Leone loses approximately US $29 million per year due to IUU fishing activities.[7] A significant proportion of these losses stem from the activities of foreign trawlers operating illegally in Sierra Leone’s Inshore Exclusion Zone (IEZ), an area strictly reserved for artisanal fishermen and as a breeding and nursery ground for fish.
  • Between 1 January 2010 and 31 July 2012, EJF’s community surveillance project in southern Sierra Leone received 252 reports of pirate fishing by industrial vessels in inshore areas. Nine out of 10 of the vessels were accredited to export their catches to Europe.[8]
  • The EU has also provided €3 million of funding to MFMR to improve data on the status of fisheries resources in Sierra Leone, which will contribute to the development of fisheries management measures. Sierra Leone has expressed an interested in negotiating a Fisheries Partnership Agreement with the EU, and it is expected that information generated under this project will provide essential information for these negotiations.[9]
  • Sierra Leone has received funding under the World Bank’s West Africa Regional Fisheries Programme to reduce illegal fishing through the strengthening of Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) systems. In 2012, a Fisheries Monitoring Centre was established under the programme; however, the centre has been out of service for the past two years due to electricity shortages, internet problems and damaged radars.[10]

Trinidad and Tobago

  • Trinidad and Tobago is a twin-island state located off the Venezuelan coast. It is one of the most developed nations in the Caribbean, with the second highest per capita income in the region[11].
  • The area of the country’s EEZ is 58,722 km2.[12]
  • The fishing industry in Trinidad is largely artisanal, but includes multipurpose vessels, semi-industrial and industrial trawlers and is characterised by multi-species and multi-gear fisheries[13].
  • Commercial fishing is undertaken by a smaller fleet of larger more mechanized vessels. These are semi-industrial longliners, fish pot and handline vessels, and semi-industrial and industrial trawlers[14].
  • Apart from local fishing operations, Trinidad and Tobago is also the base for the transshipment primarily of tuna species. The majority of the vessels are Taiwanese owned and registered in Panama, Venezuela and a number of other countries. Most of the fish is transshipped to the US market[15].
  • The principal species targeted by the oceanic pelagic fishery are tunas: yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), bigeye tuna ( obesus), albacore (T. alalunga), blackfin tuna (T. atlanticus), swordfish (Xiphias gladius), dolphin fish (Coryphaena hippurus) with sharks and carite being considered as bycatch[16].


  • Kiribati is a nation of 33 atoll and reef islands stretching over an area of more than 3.5 million km2 in the central Pacific Ocean, forming one of the world’s biggest Exclusive Economic Zones[17].
  • Kiribati’s large EEZ supports lucrative fishing activities, with annual catches averaging approximately 160,000 mt per year[18].
  • The country’s extensive EEZ supports a large oceanic tuna catch by foreign vessels fishing under access agreements. Mainly Taiwanese, Korean, Japanese and US longliners and purse seiners fish in Kiribati’s EEZ.[19]
  • Foreign vessels fish under bilateral access agreements, except for US vessels, which fish under a multilateral treaty[20]. Kiribati has bilateral agreements with Japan, Taiwan, Republic of Korea and China – and corporate agreements with companies from Ecuador, New Zealand and El Salvador[21].
  • The purse-seine fishery is the cornerstone of Kiribati’s tuna fisheries providing over 60% of government revenue. Kiribati also licenses a significant number of foreign longline fleets that primarily catch yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), bigeye tuna ( obesus), albacore (T. alalunga) and tuna related species[22].

The previous Protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement concluded between the EU and Kiribati covered the period 16.9.2012 – 15.9.2015. The financial contribution from the EU was 1,325,000 €/year, of which 350,000 €/year (26 %) was designated to support Kiribati’s sectoral fisheries policy[23].

  • The first fisheries agreementconcluded between the EU and Kiribati dates back to 2003. It was the first fisheries agreement to be negotiated in the Pacific[24].


[1] Seto et al. (2015):

[2] and

[3] INTERPOL (2014): Study on Fisheries Crime in the West African Coastal Region.

[4] EU External Action Service:

[5] Ibid.

[6] EJF (2012):

[7] EU External Action Service:

[8] EJF (2012):

[9] EU External Action Service:
















Posted on Categories EuropeTags