Non-cooperating Saint Vincent and the Grenadines,
also the Comoros – Issues warning for Liberia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the Comoros have been identified as non-cooperating third countries under the EU‘s regulation to fight and deter illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, while Liberia has been pre-identified.
The decision to issue a red card to the Comoros is based on the typical use of its flag as flag of convenience, which means registering ships in a sovereign state different from that of the ship‘s owners. Most of the Comorian fleet has no connection to the country and operates in breach of national law, mainly in the waters of West Africa. These vessels have been found to disregard the laws applicable in the national waters they operate in, transhipping fish from one vessel to another, a practice related to the laundering of illegal catches.
Despite receiving a yellow card in October 2015, and despite considerable effort by the European Commission to support this country in addressing the issue, no progress has been made. Although the red card implies trade sanctions, in this particular case the decision will not impact on trade as the Comoros do not export fish to the EU. However, EU vessels will no longer be allowed to take license to fish in their waters.
SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
For Saint Vincent and the Grenadines the decision comes due to the lack of control by the authorities of vessels flying their flag. These vessels operate all over the Atlantic and offload their catches in Trinidad and Tobago (which has already been warned in order to improve control over activities in its ports). Effectively, these vessels elude any control over their activities. This raises the concern that they are involved in illegal practices. Two vessels from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are already on the international vessel “black list” compiled by Regional Fisheries Management Organizations. Similarly to the Comoros, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines do not export fish to the EU.
Liberia has the second biggest shipping registry in the world with over 100 fishing transport vessels registered under this flag. The national fisheries authorities do not have the information or means to control this fleet. This lack of control has been confirmed by the listing of a Liberian vessel on the international “black list” last October. Liberia has taken reform measures including the revision of its fisheries laws, but no tangible progress has followed. The Commission hopes that the pre-identification will raise political awareness and encourage the country to implement the necessary reforms in fisheries governance.
EU FIGHTING ILLEGAL FISHING
Fighting illegal fishing is part of the EU‘s commitment to ensure the sustainable use of the sea and its resources under the EU‘s Common Fisheries Policy and in the context of promoting better governance of the oceans worldwide. The Commission attaches great importance to cooperation with third countries. The EU‘s support helps these countries strengthen their fight against IUU fishing.