European Union bans seafood imports from Belize
The European Union has blacklisted seafood imports from Belize in its toughest move yet to eradicate illegal fishing.
The Caribbean country was joined by Cambodia and Guinea in the action taken Monday, which effectively bans their products from the world’s most valuable seafood market.
Blacklisting the three as “countries acting insufficiently against illegal fishing” means EU states will now be required to ban their fish imports and EU ships are required to stay out of their waters.
Belize, Cambodia and Guinea were among eight nations warned in late 2012 to take action against illegal fishing or face such action.
The other nations warned — Panama, Fiji, Togo, Sri Lanka and Vanuatu — were considered by the European Commission to have made significant progress, but remain under scrutiny.
Curacao, along with Ghana and South Korea, received warning “yellow cards” in November and are currently being evaluated.
Illegal fishing is estimated to account for 15 percent of world catches. The decision by the EU – which imports 65 percent of its seafood – to impose the blacklist won swift praise from environmental groups.
“Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing depletes fish stocks, damages marine ecosystems, puts legitimate fishers at an unfair disadvantage and jeopardizes the livelihoods of some of the world’s most vulnerable communities,” said the conservationist bodies WWF, Oceana, the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Environmental Justice Foundation.
European Union Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki lauded the decisions which she described as “historic.”
“I want EU citizens to know that the fish they consume is sustainable, wherever it comes from,” she said.