The European Union warned Tuesday the Philippines, one of the world’s largest fishing nations, and Papua New Guinea that they faced an import ban if they do not curb illegal fishing.
The European Commission said it had failed to make progress in talks with both countries and decided to issue a formal warning — a “yellow card” — that they must reach European Union standards on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
If the Philippines, listed as the 12th biggest global fishing nation, and PNG fail to come up to scratch “through dialogue and cooperation … then the EU can proceed to trade measures,” it said.
The position will be reviewed in six months time to see if the two countries have made enough progress on action plans drawn up by the EU, it added.
Failure to do so will put them onto the “red list” of nations which are not allowed to sell fish to the 28-nation EU.
“If half of the Western Pacific’s tuna is exported to the EU, we cannot ignore illegal fishing activities in this region,” European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki
The warning follows a thorough analysis and takes into account the countries’ development level, the Commission said
In March, the EU banned fish imports from Belize, Cambodia and Guinea for “acting insufficiently against illegal fishing.”
The Commission similarly warned Panama, Fiji, Togo, Sri Lanka and Vanuatu in 2012 and South Korea, Ghana and Curacao in 2013 but said Tuesday most of these countries had “cooperated constructively” with Brussels.
Illegal fishing is estimated to account for 15 per cent of the world catch annually, with the EU importing about 65 per cent of its seafood.
Fisheries in the Philippines and PNG are under huge pressure from growing populations and environmental damage.
The EU imported fish worth 165 million euros from the Philippines in 2013 and 108 million euros from PNG.
Campaign groups the Environmental Justice Foundation, Oceana, The Pew Charitable Trusts and WWF welcomed the EU’s latest move, saying that illegal fishing accounted for around one in five wild-caught marine fish, a haul worth up to 17 billion euros per year.