EU warns Ghana not to cooperate in fight against illegal fishing
The European Commission has issued a warning (called a yellow card) to the Republic of Ghana that it risks being identified as a non-cooperative country in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
The ruling is based on various deficiencies in Ghana’s ability to comply with its obligations under international law as a flag, port, coastal or market state.
Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius said in a statement: “Commission defends zero tolerance for IUU fishing”.
He continued: “Ghana plays an important role in the governance of fisheries in West Africa. Therefore, we are ready to work with Ghana to address the threats that IUU fishing poses to the sustainability of fish stocks, coastal communities, food security and the profits of fishermen and women who play by the rules. Sustainable fishing is the key to better governance of the oceans.
He encouraged Ghana to take the necessary measures to comply with its international obligations in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
“The gaps identified include illegal transshipments at sea of large quantities of undersized juvenile pelagic species between industrial trawlers and canoes in Ghanaian waters, gaps in monitoring, control and surveillance of the fleet and a that is not aligned with relevant international standards. obligations to which Ghana has subscribed, ”he said.
Meanwhile, Virginijus Sinkevičius noted that the sanctions imposed by Ghana on vessels engaging in or supporting IUU fishing activities are not effective and do not constitute an adequate deterrent.
He added that “Ghana should ensure effective monitoring and control of the activities of its fishing vessels and proper implementation of its enforcement and sanction system. It should also ensure a sound fisheries management system to prevent fish from IUU fishing activities reaching its market or others, including the European market.
The yellow card is a warning and gives Ghana an opportunity to react and take action to rectify the situation within a reasonable timeframe.
At this stage, the decision does not include any measure affecting trade.
However, in the event of prolonged and ongoing non-compliance, countries may ultimately face an identification procedure (a red card), which results in sanctions such as bans on exporting their fishery products. to the EU market.
Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing threatens the very foundation of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and the EU’s international efforts to promote better ocean governance.
As part of the European Green Agreement and the pursuit of the United Nations’ sustainable development objective for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans, sea and marine resources, the Commission is committed to adopting a zero tolerance approach to IUU fishing.
The fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is also an important aspect of the objective of the EU biodiversity strategy to protect the marine environment. The Strategy for Africa highlights the fight against IUU fishing as one of the key issues to be addressed with our African partners.
The Republic of Ghana had already received a yellow card in November 2013, which was subsequently lifted in October 2015, after Ghana remedied the shortcomings.
The EU is the world’s largest importer of fishery products. The global value of IUU fishing is estimated at 10-20 billion euros per year. Between 11 and 26 million tonnes of fish are caught illegally each year, which corresponds to at least 15% of global catches.
Friday’s Commission decision is based on the EU’s ‘IUU regulation’, which entered into force in 2010. One of the pillars of this regulation is the catch certification system which ensures that only fishery products legally caught can enter the EU market.
The regulation also provides for specific dialogue mechanisms with countries that fail to comply with their obligations as flag state, coastal state, port state and market state under international law.
While the lack of cooperation within the framework of the dialogue may lead to country identification (a “red card”), IUU dialogues are based on cooperation and support to countries and constitute an important step in the fight against IUU fishing, with sanctions, including the trade ban being only a measure of last resort.
Since November 2012, the Commission, which comes under the European Union, has engaged in a formal dialogue with 27 third countries, that is to say officially warned them of the need to take effective measures to combat IUU fishing. .
In most cases, significant progress has been observed and the Commission has therefore been able to successfully conclude the formal dialogue phase and lift the yellow card. Only a few countries have failed to demonstrate the necessary commitment to reforms so far.
At the same time, the EU said it was working to support the people of Ghana on the ground with several capacity building projects.