The European Commission has blacklisted Belize and 7 other countries for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and it could have far-reaching consequences for our fisheries exports.
The blacklist was announced two weeks ago when the European Parliament's fisheries committee voted to list Belize, Cambodia, Fiji, Guinea, Panama, Sri Lanka, the Togolese Republic and the Republic of Vanuatu.
This decision is described as the first of its kind, but at this time, does not include any trade sanctions. That could change though, and if the situation does not improve, the European Union could impose a ban on selling fisheries products from Belize to that trading bloc.
As we understand it, that could affect at least one shrimp exporter, but whatís of greater concern to local officials is the possible domino effect it could have on other trading partners including the United States.
But, again, itís not there yet and the Commission has given Belize a list of demands that it must show action on by the end of May. For background, we should note that Belize has been facing this threat for two years and has committed since 2010 that the fisheries laws are being revised, but it still hasnít happened Ė and likely wonít happen before the end of this month.
To be clear, the problem has nothing to do with Belizean fishermen or even Belizean vessels. It arises from the international vessels that fly the Belizean flag, which they have purchased from IMMARBE. The European Union says, quite correctly, that the Fisheries Department does not have the power to govern these vessels or the resources to monitor them.Channel 7