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22nd Jan 2022

Taiwan could face EU fish ban

Taiwanese fish products could face an import ban in Europe after the European Commission issued a yellow card on Thursday (1 October) over illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU).

Taiwan, as well as the Comoros, which also received a yellow card, have now six months to commit to regulate their fishing industry.

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"The decision to issue a yellow card to Taiwan is based on serious shortcomings in the fisheries legal framework, a system of sanctions that does not deter IUU fishing, and lack of effective monitoring, control and surveillance of the long-distance fleet," the Commission said in a press release.

The Commission also said that "Taiwan does not systematically comply with Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (RFMO) obligations."

Taiwan's choice

Taiwan's fishing production, which was worth $3.37 billion in 2013, is expected to grow by 4 percent in 2015 after a 2.8 percent growth in 2014.

90 percent of the catches, especially tuna and squid, are for exportation. Exports to the EU were worth €14 million in 2014.

"Taiwan has a choice. Taiwan must clean up its fisheries management, or risk the international disgrace and economic consequences of a red card," Greenpeace East Asia oceans campaigner Yen Ning said in a statement Thursday.

"With the biggest tuna fleet in the Pacific, and with 1200 small boats, mainly fishing on the high seas… the fishery is out of control, and as profit margins fall, the industry is increasingly reckless and ruthless, breaking the law and exploiting fishermen," the environmental NGO said in a statement.

With the Comoros, the problem comes from the fact that the country has "partly delegated the management of [its] fleet register to a private company located offshore", the Commission said.

"This fishing fleet operates in breach of Comorian law and is not monitored by the Comorian authorities."

The Comoros are tied to the EU by a Fisheries Partnership Agreement that was worth €600,000 in 2014. €300,000 was earmarked to promote fisheries sustainability.

EU imports from Comoros are limited, but non-filet frozen fish represents a quarter of Comoros total exports.

The EU Commission said that despite discussions with Taiwan and the Comoros "for a number of years", "insufficient progress" has been made by the two countries to comply to EU standards over illegal and unregulated fishing.

Taiwan and the Comoros will now have six months "to propose measures to be incorporated into an action plan with clear benchmarks and criteria".

If they fail to show enough commitment, they would face a red card, that is, a ban over their export to the EU. Red cards have already been handed to Cambodia, Guinea and Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile, also on Thursday, the Commission lifted the yellow card issued in November 2013 and June 2014 to Ghana and Papua New Guinea.

"They have amended their legal frameworks to combat IUU fishing, strengthened their sanctioning systems, improved monitoring and control of their fleets and are now complying with international law," the Commission said.

Thailand

By the end of the year, the EU executive will also have to decide whether to lift the yellow card to issue a red card to Thailand.

A procedure was launched in April, with the EU demanding that Thailand "ensures the full traceability of all marine fishery products".

EU experts are expected in Thailand this month for a fact-finding mission on fisheries control and social conditions.

"We are very concerned about the situation, both at the level of fishing and slavery. And we think we have to deal with both issues," a senior EU official was quoted as saying by Associated Press.

"We want a global solution at the end," the official said.

Thailand's seafood imports to the EU were worth €642 million last year.

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