Brussels -- Following a Commission proposal, the Council of Ministers has today decided to list Belize, Cambodia and Guinea-Conakry as countries acting insufficiently against illegal fishing. After several warnings, measures will now come into effect against the three countries to tackle the commercial benefits stemming from illegal fishing. This means that imports into the EU of any fisheries products caught by vessels from these countries will now be banned, whilst EU vessels will not be allowed to fish in these countries' waters. It is the first time that measures of this type are adopted at EU level.
European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, welcomed the decision: 'These decisions are historic. They demonstrate that the EU is leading by example in the fight against illegal fishing. I want EU citizens to know that the fish they consume is sustainable, wherever it comes from. We are steadily moving in that direction. I hope that this blacklisting will act as a catalyst for Belize, Cambodia, and Guinea to step up their efforts and work with the international community to eliminate illegal fishing'
The decision is consistent with the EU's international commitment to the sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources at home and abroad. The EU's approach reflects the fact that illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a global criminal activity harmful not only to EU fishermen, but also to local communities in developing countries.
Despite the Commission working closely with the authorities of Belize, Cambodia and Guinea to set up fisheries management and effective control measures, the three countries have still not addressed structural problems and have failed to show real commitment to tackling the problem of illegal fishing. After several warnings1 , the Commission therefore proposed to the Council to list the three countries as non-cooperating countries, in line with the EU IUU Regulation2.
Today's decision by the Council means that fisheries products caught by vessels flying these countries' flags are now banned from being imported into the EU. EU vessels will also have to stop fishing in these waters. Other forms of cooperation, such as joint fishing operations or fisheries agreements with these countries will no longer be possible.
The EU is hereby enforcing its international commitments as laid down by the United Nations and the FAO. All of the identified countries have failed to fulfil their duties as flag, coastal, port or market states typically by disrespecting the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) or the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement.