European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, said:“Today’s decisions demonstrate the extraordinary po tential of the EU market to bring important players on board in the fight against IUU. Both Ghana and Papua New Guinea have taken ownership of their fisheries reforms and now have robust legal and policy frameworks in place to fight IUU fishing activities”.
Ghana, an important fishing nation, with export of fishery products to the European market for about EUR 128 Million per year, has developed new legislation, increased sanctions, improved its monitoring, control and inspection, and strengthened its traceability system. The Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Directorate-General (DG MARE) of the EU Commission provided over the last two years extensive technical assistance to Ghana and with the support of the EU Delegation to Ghana facilitated dialogue with all key stakeholders involved, including the national relevant authorities, the fishing industry and local communities.
Since receiving a ‘yellow card’ warning in November2013, the Commission recognises that Ghana has now the legal and administrative framework to fully meet its responsibilities as coastal, flag, port and export State, to prevent, fight and deter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) activities. The country is also in a good position now to become a regional leader in this fight and meet its international obligations under the 1995 United Nations Fish Stock Agreement in particular :
•Ghana has adopted a National Plan of Action.
•Ghana has adopted an ambitious Fisheries Management Plan and fleet strategy.
•Ghana has adopted revised legislation strengthening its legal framework and introducing dissuasive sanctions.
•Ghana Fisheries Enforcement Unit is fully operational, ensuring effective monitoring, control and surveillance, and investments have been made in this area.
•Procedures for validation and cross checking of EU Catch Certificates have been set up and implemented, ensuring improved traceability.
Thanks to the reforms, the fishing industries in Ghana are subject to more strict controls by the competent authorities. William Hanna, EU Ambassador to Ghana, praised the reforms introduced by Ghana: “I welcome Ghana as strategic partner in the fight against IUU Fishing. The set of new reforms creates a level playing field for EU operators who are also subject to strict controls under the EU Control Regulation. It also benefits the coastal fisheries communities as they are the first victims of depleted stocks caused by IUU fishing”. The government of Ghana is now in the position to enforce fleet registration and licensing and a new vessel monitoring system is in place to locate vessels in Ghana’s waters in line with international standards.
The European Commission will now end formal discussions with Ghana and looks forward to continued cooperation in the fight against IUU fishing. Fighting illegal fishing is part of the EU’s drive to ensure the sustainable use of the sea and its resources, in line with the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, as well as better governance of the oceans worldwide.
The European Commission today also adopted a Communication on the application of the IUU Regulation. This Communication presents the tangible results that have been observed since the EU IUU Regulation came into force in 2010 and lays out the future plans for its implementation.
Today’s decisions are based on the EU’s ‘IUU Regulation’, which entered into force in 2010. This key instrument in the fight against illegal fishing ensures that only fisheries products that have been certified as legal can access the EU market.
Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) depletes fish stocks, destroys marine habitats, distorts competition, puts honest fishers at an unfair disadvantage, and weakens coastal communities, particularly in developing countries. The global value of IUU fishing is estimated at approximately 10 billion euros per year. Between 11 and 26 million tonnes of fish are caught illegally a year, corresponding to at least 15% of world catches.
The European Commission handed out a formal warning – ‘yellow card’ – to Ghana in 2013 as the country failed to keep up with international obligations to fight illegal fishing. The Commission identified concrete shortcomings, such as a lack of actions to address deficiencies in monitoring, controlling and surveillance of fisheries, and suggested corrective actions to resolve them.
In reaction to the EU warning, the authorities of Ghana committed to a constructive and fruitful dialogue with the European Commission. As a result, fisheries governance has been reinforced and its revised legal and policy systems now provide them with the necessary elements to target those who do not respect the rules.
Source: African Press Organization