EU to decide on Thai fishing in December

EU to decide on Thai fishing in December

Small fishing boats line the shore in Hua Hin district in Prachuap Khiri Khan province on Sept 27, 2015. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
Small fishing boats line the shore in Hua Hin district in Prachuap Khiri Khan province on Sept 27, 2015. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

BRUSSELS — The European Union has given a December deadline on whether to make a decision on banning fish imports from Thailand.

Brussels has also issued a warning to Taiwan that it is not doing enough to tackle illegal fishing.

The EU has been cracking down on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing with the threat of import restrictions. It has already banned fish caught by vessels from Cambodia, Guinea and Sri Lanka.

Thailand was yellow-carded by the EU in April, throwing its fishing industry into disarray and prompting fishermen to go on strike against what they said were unfair government measures to stop illegal fishing.

The country is the world's third-largest supplier of seafood.

Relations between the EU and Thai authorities have been described as "excellent", but the Asian country still has "a lot of progress to make", a European Commission official said on condition of anonymity.

The EU's executive had given Thailand six months to step up the fight against illegal fishing or risk sanctions.

The six months will come to an end in October. The commission will then need until December to decide if the country's exports should be blacklisted or if Bangkok has cooperated enough to be granted more time to fix its problems, the official said.

"Our objective is not to punish. Our objective is to have sustainable fishing worldwide," the official added.

Taiwan, which exports 13 million euros in fish annually to the EU, was issued a so-called yellow card on Thursday for having "serious shortcomings" in its legal framework for fisheries, illegal fishing sanctions that are not enough of a deterrent, and ineffective monitoring of long-distance fleets.

It now has six months to address those issues. 

The Comoros islands also received a yellow card on Thursday, while Ghana and Papua New Guinea had theirs lifted after reforming their fishing industries, the commission said.

"Today's decisions demonstrate the determination of the EU to bring important players on board in the fight against IUU fishing," its fisheries commissioner, Karmenu Vella, said in a statement.

At least 15% of world fish catches are thought to be illegal, unreported or unregulated, accounting annually for up to 26 million tonnes of fish worth up to 10 billion euros.

EU warnings over illegal fishing are also active against Curacao, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu.

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