Belize officially taken off the Red List by the EU

Friday, December 26th, 2014

Improvements in international law obligations and legal framework to fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing results in lifting of trade sanctions imposed on Belize

Press Release – Oceana Belize – December 16, 2014 – Oceana Belize commits to supporting GoB’s efforts to support EU goal Sustainability. Accountability. Progress. Those are the themes being emphasized by the world’s biggest fish importer, the European Union, as it continues to drive towards a global goal of the sustainable use of the oceans and collaboration in address the major threats confronting marine environments. And today, as Belize is officially taken off the Red List, (the list of countries deemed non-cooperative in fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing) the importance of each country’s role in ocean governance and sustainable fisheries is highlighted.
European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries , Karmenu Vella, has reiterated, “The EU is a global leader when it comes to better ocean governance but acting alone cannot put in place the structures to keep the world’s oceans healthy, clean and safe whilst creating an investment climate conducive to more jobs and growth.” And while Belize is now on the right track, Deputy Director of Belize’s High Seas Fisheries Unit Robert Robinson maintains that the job of keeping Belize off such lists will be a continuous process.Illegal Slaughter of Protected Sports Fish
“Belize is a long distance fisheries nation and it is often difficult to find the right people to put the right measures in place,” says Robinson. “However, the nature of international high seas fisheries is such that your fleet must be monitored remotely. And we need to put the mechanisms in place that will ensure checks and balances to ensure the compliance of your fleet.” Robinson went to state, “We recognize that it was not the EU trying to bully a third world nation so much as they were trying to help us to bring our level of compliance with international regulations up to that international standard that is acceptable.”
Following the official announcement today, Oceana Belize’s Vice President Janelle Chanona repeated the organization’s pledge to support national efforts in support of the EU’s goal. “Oceana is convinced that the sea will be essential in helping to feed the world in the not so far off future. The actions we take today to help to ensure sustainability and minimize threats in local waters and the high seas will be pivotal in ensuring that Belize is part of the solution to food security for ourselves and the rest of the world.”
Illegal fishing is not just criminal it also compromises fishing based livelihoods and depletes global fish stocks. The press release issued today in Brussels maintained, “The Council [of the European Union] adopted an implementing decision amending the list of non-cooperating third countries in fighting IUU fishing pursuant to regulation 1005/2008 establishing a Community system to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing (15295/14) This decision removes Belize from the list of non-cooperating third countries.” The release went on to declare, “It appears that Belize has implemented its international law obligations and has adopted an adequate legal framework for fighting IUU fishing.” The release also restated that “in March 2014, the Council triggered a series of measures affecting the trade in fisheries products and other fisheries- related activities with Belize, Cambodia and Guinea in order to put a stop to commercial benefits stemming from illegal fishing activities. Fisheries products caught by vessels from these countries were banned from being imported into the EU. Regulation 1005/2008 establishes a Community system to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing. This key instrument in the fight against illegal fishing aims to allow access to the EU market only to fisheries products that have been certified as legal by the flag state or the exporting state concerned.”
Speaking in the context of four other countries warned about illegal fishing, including the Caribbean countries of Saint Kitts and Nevis and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Commissioner Vella reiterated this week, “We will continue to prioritize sustainability in waters at home and abroad.” The estimated global value of IUU fishing is approximately EUR 10 billion per year. Between 11 and 26 million tons of fish are caught illegally a year, which corresponds to at least 15 percent of world catches.
For video of Robert Robinson’s comments, please use this link: http://bit.ly/1suBPLM
Please find the link to the press release regarding Belize by copying and pasting this link into your browser. The details on Belize can be found at page 10. http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/en/agricult/146304.pdf
For more information, please contact Oceana in Belize at 822-2792.
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Oceana is the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans. Oceana wins policy victories for the oceans using science-based campaigns. Since 2001, we have protected over 1.2 million square miles of ocean and innumerable sea turtles, sharks, dolphins and other sea creatures. More than 600,000 supporters have already joined Oceana. Global in scope, Oceana has offices in Asia, North, South and Central America and Europe. To learn more, please visit www.oceana.org.

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