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#478444 - 11/26/13 08:36 PM EU to Ban Fish Imports
Marty Online   happy
EU to Ban Fish Imports from States Linked to Illegal Trade (Cambodia, Belize and Guinea)

The European Commission proposed on Tuesday an EU-wide ban on fisheries imports from Cambodia, Belize and Guinea, saying they had not done enough to stamp out illegal fishing.

The European Union's executive branch also warned South Korea and Ghana that they faced similar bans unless they took concrete steps to address the problem.

The European Union is the world's top importer of fresh and frozen fish and seafood. It has been criticised for not doing enough to prevent fish caught illegally in other parts of the world from ending up on European dining tables.

"These decisions show our steadfast commitment to tackling illegal fishing," EU fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki said in a statement. "We continue to put pressure on the countries which are fuelling the supply chain of illegal fishing."

Earlier this year, EU governments banned imports of herring and mackerel from the Faroe Islands, accusing the self-governing Danish territory of setting unsustainable catch quotas for the fisheries it shares with the EU, Norway, Russia and Iceland.

Once approved by fisheries ministers from the 28 member states in the coming months, the proposed Asian and African restrictions would also prohibit EU vessels from fishing in the affected countries' waters.

Up to 26 million tonnes of fish are caught illegally each year worldwide, with an estimated value of 10 billion euros ($13.5 billion), the Commission said.

The European Union imported more than 50 million tonnes of fisheries products in 2011 worth 18.5 billion euros, according to EU statistics office Eurostat.

Last year, a study by a British environmental group found that nine out of 10 vessels believed to be responsible for the bulk of illegal fishing off Sierra Leone were licensed to export their catches to Europe.

"The Commission has acted for the first time to curb the effect that European fish imports have on the long term viability of global fish stocks and the fight against illegal fishing," said Saskia Richartz from environmental campaign group Greenpeace. ($1 = 0.7404 euros)

Reuters

===================

Fish imports from Belize, Guinea and Cambodia are to be banned from the European Union, and three more countries have been warned their imports are in danger, in the first major sanction against countries that allow illegal fishing operations to carry on under their countries' flags.

The three countries to be banned were warned last year that the European commission was preparing to end imports of their fish and fish products, because of concerns that they had failed to take action over piracy and illegal fishing. It is the first time imports have been banned as a result of the widespread global trade in landing fish for which vessels do not have the correct fishing permits. EU vessels will also be banned in fishing in the waters of the three offending nations.

On Tuesday, the commission also showed a "yellow card" South Korea, Ghana and Curaçao. The three countries will have to show progress on tackling pirate fishing in the next six months, or their imports will also be banned.

The sanctions, announced by the European commission on Tuesday, will have to be ratified by the EU's council before they come into force next year.

Maria Damanaki, the EU's fisheries commissioner, said: "The heart of the problem is the lack of effective control on their fleet. How can they claim in these circumstances that the fish caught under their flag or in their coastal waters is sustainable?"

Countries are able to license vessels from other nations to fly under their flags – the so-called "flags of convenience", which can mask the real origin of a vessel. Belize has long been targeted by critics of the "flag of convenience" rules. The EU's willingness to tackle these opaque rules has sent a warning to countries that have lax rules on flags of convenience that their vessels will no longer be able to operate with impunity, green campaigners said.

Tony Long, director of the Ending Illegal Fishing Programme at the Pew Charitable Trusts, said: "The EU is a huge market for seafood, so it is critical that the council should act to ensure that only legally caught fish are reaching consumers. While the three countries cited do not represent the whole picture, we are pleased that the European commission is continuing to investigate other countries known for their lax enforcement of illegal fishing."

The EU imports around 65% of the seafood consumed. Its imports from three countries to be banned amount to less than €10m a year, on official figures, but the three "yellow card" countries amount to well over €200m a year.

Steve Trent, executive director of the Environmental Justice Foundation, said the EU's move showed "leadership". He said: "[This] sends an unequivocal message to pirate fishing operators that the EU will leverage its unique legislation to prevent their willful and illegal actions that are damaging marine environments, depleting fish stocks, undermining legitimate operators and destroying the livelihoods of many poor coastal communities."

He said that unless there was a "dramatic" improvement in Korea's operations, its imports should also be banned.

Green MEPs welcomed the targeting of Korea, which they said had played "a very obstructive role" in negotiations over ending illegal fishing.

Corozal Daily Note: This news comes as a major blow to the fishing industry.

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#478504 - 11/27/13 09:55 AM Re: EU to Ban Fish Imports [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Belize Blacklisted, Gets a Black Eye With EU Fisheries Ban

In June, when the government of Belize took over the International Merchant Marine Registry, Immarbe from the Ashcroft Alliance and a Panamanian Law firm called Morgan and Morgan, a major part of the reason was that - with Immarbe in private hands - Belize faced international sanctions from the European Union because of the high seas fisheries fleet carrying Belizean flags.

Now, to make it clear, these vessels have nothing to do with true Belizean fishers or vessels; Immarbe sells the Belize flag as a flag of convenience to international fishing vessels. For years, the European Union had been complaining that Immarbe doesn't have the regulatory oversight to properly police these vessels, which could be engaging in illegal activities on the high seas.

Well, the government takeover should have brought some order to that, and followed by the High Seas Fishing Bill which has been tabled in the House, but not yet passed. To government's thinking, those measures should have allayed the fears of the European Union about a rogue fleet. It should have, but it didn't; seems the European Union wants deeds, not words.

Today, news came out that the European Commission has proposed an EU-wide ban on fisheries imports from Cambodia, Belize and Guinea, saying they had not done enough to stamp out illegal fishing.

A memo from the European Commission dated yesterday says "out of the 8 countries who received a warning in 2012, only Belize, Cambodia and Guinea have not made credible progress in fulfilling their duties under international law and have failed to improve the situation."

The memo explains that quote, "The European Commission will also submit a proposal…to place Belize (and the other countries) on the list of non-cooperating countries," end quote.

When that goes through - and it's pretty much automatic, fisheries products caught by vessels flying the flag of these countries cannot be imported into the EU. But that doesn't affect imports directly from Belize - such as aquaculture exports from Belize - those can still be exported to Europe. But, the monitoring continues - and if the EU sees Belize making no tangible progress, then those legitimate Belizean exports would be also be blacklisted.

So how did it come to this? Well, it seems that the High Seas Bill crafted by government didn't satisfy the Europeans. And that's mainly because it puts Immarbe to regulate a fishing fleet with which it also has a commercial, business relationship. Additionally, even with the government takeover, Immarbe still does not have the resources institutional or human to properly police and regulate a high seas fleet.

In the near term, it's a very major black eye for Belize which is now blacklisted as a country that is encouraging illegal fishing. In the medium term, government can prove that it is taking tangible action to rehabilitate itself, but it seems that would mean scrapping the High Seas bill as it is presently drafted.

We'll keep following the story.

Channel 7


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#478516 - 11/27/13 11:00 AM Re: EU to Ban Fish Imports [Re: Marty]
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#478587 - 11/28/13 10:17 AM Re: EU to Ban Fish Imports [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

PM Says IMMARBE Black Eye Can Be Fixed, CFATF Not So Easily

And we go back now to the Prime Minister’s press conference, which, as we said, was loaded with news.  He addressed the issue of the European Union blacklisting Belize.  As we told you last night, it’s because of IMMARBE – which sells the Belizean flag to high seas vessels in international waters.  The EU correctly says that IMMARBE does not police the fleet, and because of that Belize was blacklisted.  Today the Prime Minister said he is confident that Government can make adjustment in the laws to satisfy the Europeans:

Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister of Belize
"We will very quickly pass or promulgate the regulations. What they are saying is, 'You've passed the Act and that's fine, but there must be regulations under the Act that will then create the monitoring infrastructure, and then you must operationalize the infrastructure.' I am telling you that we will do that, but I've said before, and I will say again ultimately, if we have to de-register the entire fishing fleet, we will do that. It is not a step that you likely take because it is earning revenue for the Government, but at the end of the day, we will do whatever we have to. The possible consequences of the EU action don't extend to anything other than the fisheries product of the fishing fleet, you know. It doesn't affect our shrimp, doesn't affect anything else. So, while it is serious, and we're taking it seriously - and we will deal with it - don't let us get us carried away."

And while the PM kind of brushed that one off, he couldn’t be so dismissive with the grim warning from the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force.  Last week, the CFATF issued a release listing Belize as one of the countries that quote, “have not complied with their Action Plan…to address…deficiencies (in their laws).”  Now, this is after Belize passed over a dozen pieces of legislation in October to become compliant.  But, it’s not enough and the task force is threatening to disrupt Belize’s onshore banking industry if the country doesn’t comply with these offshore requirements.  Now, the regulations are about combatting money laundering and the financing of terrorism, but the Prime Minister says it’s also about big countries trying to bring down the hammer on the offshore industries of small countries:..

Hon. Dean Barrow
"The draftsperson who operates as legal counsel to the Ministry of Finance has been given the job to go back over the list of - I can't say requests - demands from these people, and has been given a mandate to produce the additional legislation that we need, and to do the additional things that we need, by February. We will go the House, certainly by the end of January, with the new legislation drafted and ready to be passed. We recognize that these big countries, and that their proxies, their agencies are all powerful, and collapse our system, so we can complain. We can denounce them, but the fact is that ultimately, we have to recognize where the power lies. On the other hand, we have people in the financial services sector; we have people in the offshore sector that are saying to us, 'If you go as far as these people are demanding, you're going to shut down the industry.' So it's a huge balancing act that's required. Ultimately, I've said to the local people, 'Please, we will try as best we can to protect you as much as we are able, but in the end, recognize that the jig will soon be up. It may be unfair, but these people won't stop until they kill off our offshore sector. I will complain; I will lament; I will send up jeremiads; I will say that these people are taking advantage of us. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, we have no choice but to comply, and so, comply we will. The ramifications if we don't, where correspondent banks will cut off the relationships with local commercial banks, and ultimately, they can collapse our commercial banking sector, is something we can't contemplate. So, I can kick and scream, but I will do what they require there because I have no choice."

Channel 7


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#478592 - 11/28/13 10:40 AM Re: EU to Ban Fish Imports [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Belize Will Deregister Fishing Fleet if Necessary

pm dean

As we reported on Tuesday, Belize was one of three countries to be banned from exporting fish products to the European Union, after the European Commission concluded that we were not cooperating in the fight against illegal fishing.  According to the Commission, these countries have not addressed structural problems and have failed to show real commitment to tackle the problem.  Love News got an interview today with the Acting Fisheries Administrator, George Myvette, who spoke on the technical aspects of the Government’s position that led to the ban.

GEORGE MYVETTE

“What has transpired in relation to the decision is that, from our stand point, it’s a governance issue and in that regard our advice as a technical arm of the government of Belize has been that there is a need to treat the foreign fleet regulatory issues holistically with the national issues and in that context we have developed a body of legislation that has been before the political directorate for the past 4 years and in that context we had unified the management of the foreign fleet along with the domestic fleet.   The Government of Belize has made a decision  in that regard in which we have decoupled the foreign fleet management from the domestic fleet management; that’s a policy decision, I am speaking to in relation to the technical recommendation that came out of the fisheries department.  I would not be in a position to second guess but inform the policy decision but I would say that certainly the issues that would affect the domestic fisheries in terms of stock depletions, in terms of issues related to pollution, illegal fishing they run across the board and so in that context we found it wise to unify the management of the foreign fleet with the domestic fishery management programs.”

MARION ALI

“Clearly this comes with some consequences?  We have lost a level of trade with the EU.”

GEORGE MYVETTE

“I think you’re right that it definitely has an impact; it does have economic impacts but I must make mention that we don’t have a fisheries department functioning outside of the political governance structure within government.  So our advice has been taken on board but I don’t think that the decision that was made was in consort with our advice on the decision of this matter.”

Meanwhile Prime Minister, Dean Barrow, at his press conference today, said that the government is taking the matter seriously and will ensure that proper regulation is in place to create the monitoring infrastructure that is being requested by the European Commission.

RT. HON. DEAN BARROW

“I’ve said before we took over that we will make every effort to put in place proper monitoring infrastructure.   I am repeating to you that we will very quickly pass or promulgate the regulations; what they’re saying is, ‘you’ve passed the act and that’s fine but you must have regulations under the act will then create the monitoring infrastructure and then you must operationalize the monitoring infrastructure’.  I am telling you that we will do that but I have said before and I will say again, ultimately, if we have to deregister the entire fishing fleet we will do that.  It’s not a step you lightly take  because it is earning revenue for the government but at the end of the day, we will do whatever we have to to get this thing in the kind of shape we want and to sort out the problem.  So, let us also be clear that the possible consequences of the EU action don’t extend to anything other than the fisheries product of the fishing fleet; it doesn’t affect our shrimp it doesn’t affect anything else.  So, while it is serious and we are taking it seriously and we will deal with, don’t let us get carried away and believe that it is any more consequential than it is.”

LOVEFM


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#479040 - 12/05/13 10:09 AM Re: EU to Ban Fish Imports [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Brussels' 'non-cooperating third country' decision causes surprise in Belize

The European Commission's (EC) decision to formally identify Belize as a ‘non-cooperating third country’ in the struggle against illegal fishing has been received with surprise by the local government.

Through an official communication, Belize government stressed Brussels' announcement follows a written communication addressed to the EU Commissioner, Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries reaffirming the country’s commitment “to fully cooperate with the EU to eradicate the scourge of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.”

Apart from Belize, which currently has a fleet of 128 fishing vessels landing their fish at the European Union ports, this list of third countries not offering cooperation also includes Cambodia and Guinea.

Besides the above mentioned letter, a delegation from the country met with the EU Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries at the beginning of November to assure their collaboration with the EU to control illegal fishing on the high seas.

Furthermore, in early November an act came into force, High Seas Fishing Act, to correct the deficiencies pointed out by the EU in their infrastructure for the control of IUU fishing, which the EC considered as "a first important step in setting up a new legislative framework ensuring the proper follow up of IUU activities in the high seas".

Belize government expressed further measures are intended to be taken in order to grant their collaboration and ensure sustainable fishing activities.

Some of these measures include setting Sanctions Regulations to prescribe deterrent penalties imposed on Belize flagged vessels for illegal activities on the high seas and setting up a fisheries monitoring center, an onsite observer programme and a national Plan of Action for IUU.

In addition, Belize intends to require the reassessment control mechanism for high seas fisheries by the EU early next year and has welcomed the EU’s assurance that while while any decision relating to IUU fishing will impact fisheries trade ‘the measures will not impact any other aspect of economic trade with Belize and the EU’.

Source


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#479520 - 12/11/13 10:06 AM Re: EU to Ban Fish Imports [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy
Spain to reject imports of fishery from Belize starting December 21st

Months ago the government took control of the International Merchant Marine Registry (IMMARBE) because it claimed that the European Union would have imposed sanctions on fleets carrying the Belize flag of convenience. It placed the registry directly in the Ministry of Finance and introduced a Bill on High Seas Fishing. But last month, the European Commission proceeded to blacklist Belize for not doing enough to meet obligations under international law in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Tonight, the news is that Spain is the first country to announce that beginning December twenty-first it will reject imports of fishery products from Belize, Cambodia and Guinea Conakry in compliance with the legal measures imposed by the EC. In line with the EC decision, authorities of the Member States are obliged to refuse the import of fishery products into the EU as it is evidenced that the catch certificate has been validated by the authorities of a country with a flag that has been identified as uncooperative. It means that fishery products which carry a catch certificate after December twenty first will be rejected while those with a certificate before December twenty-second will be subjected to all routine checks. In other developments, there is an advisory circulating in the region that in respect of a blacklisting of Belize by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force member states of the twenty-nine jurisdictions are called upon to consider implementing counter measures to protect their financial systems from the ongoing money laundering and terrorist financing risk emanating from Belize. But Belize and Guyana were cited by the CTAFT for deficiencies in meeting the international standards of fighting money laundering and terrorism.

Channel 5

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#479608 - 12/12/13 10:21 AM Re: EU to Ban Fish Imports [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

PM Says EU’s Ban on Fish Products is Nothing to Worry About

On October we told you about the European Commission decision to band fish products from Belize and Spain has been the first country to have agreed to band all fish products from Belize. Today Prime Minister Dean Barrow told the media that it’s nothing to worry about because the situation will be resolve soon.

RT. HON. DEAN BARROW

“Well that’s not anything that I’d be too worried about but in any case, they are sending a mission down in January; by that time we will already have passed the regulations which I will sign anytime now. Remember we passed the Act; it’s the regulations they are under. We have sent those regulations up for them to have sight of so that we can be sure that we are on the same page. So as soon as they agree I will sign off on those. So, when their mission comes in January we will be well beyond what we would have need to do to get back on the good foot.”

LOVEFM


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#480446 - 12/20/13 11:12 PM Re: EU to Ban Fish Imports [Re: Marty]
Short Offline
EU sanction to Belize for 2014 not “cast in stone”
— 20 December 2013 — by Adele Ramos

The “EU has not told Belize that it would cut cooperation if Belize begins to execute murderers.” — Ambassador Paola Amadei

EU has a very large program ongoing with Belize


Ambassador Paola Amadei, European Union (EU) Head of Delegation to Belize, was in the country this week on a mission to move the process forward in developing a new strategy for Belize to span 2014 to 2020.

Ambassador Amadei said this year, 2013, Belize saw the largest ever disbursement of EU funds, and their data show that Belize has a very large program ongoing, with a total value of 116 million euros or BZ$314 million.

She said that the EU is now preparing a new program for those seven years, and they have been in discussion with the Government of Belize, particularly the ministries responsible for economic development, finance, health and energy. They have also been meeting with civil society and private sector representatives, she said. The final strategy has to be submitted to the EU Parliament for approval, once it is completed, in 2014.

Ambassador Paola Amadei said that the EU’s allocation for Belize would more than double, when compared with allocations for the period 2008-2013. Based on data the Ambassador provided to our newspaper, the total disbursements since 2008 have totaled roughly BZ$150 million. The funds, provided through the European Development Fund (EDF) are grant funds; however, governments have the obligation of ensuring continuity of the investment schemes – such as the maintenance of roads built under the program.

She said that for the new strategy, a conscious effort is being made to align the EU strategy with Belize’s national strategy.

The entire Caribbean envelope for 2014-2020 is 1 billion euros, equivalent to about BZ$2.7 billion.

She spoke of further financial assistance available as of 2013 through the Caribbean Investment Facility, through which loan resources can also be obtained from other sources.

Ambassador Paola Amadei is based in Jamaica. Apart from Belize, she also serves The Bahamas, The Turks and Caicos, and Cayman.

We asked the Ambassador to address the perception that the multi-million-dollar EU grants come with “strings attached”—such as the suspension of hanging of convicted murderers in Belize.

The Ambassador told Amandala that this is not so. She said that for the EU, there is a long-standing policy that all the members of the EU are against the use of the death penalty. She explained that for any country to become a member of the EU, it needs to abolish the death penalty from its books.

At the international level, it is EU policy to continue promoting the abolition of the death penalty, or at least to lobby for a moratorium.

Ambassador Amadei said that the EU has provided representation in trials for persons who face execution, and they continue to also lobby the US – where the death penalty is still administered in some states. But, she said, stopping development cooperation is not a threat made as a part of that lobby against the death penalty.

She said that the EU has not told Belize that it would cut cooperation if Belize begins to execute murderers.

The year 2013 closes, however, with the EU imposing a trade sanction against Belize, and particularly a ban on the importation of fish products captured by Belize-flagged ships on the high seas, on the allegation that Belize has not done what it should to check their involvement in Illegal, Unreported or Unregulated (IUU) fishing.

We asked Ambassador Amadei to clarify for us a statement broadcast on Radio Australia today, in which an EU official, speaking of a similar ban against Cambodia, was quoted as saying that the sanction also bars EU companies and EU fishermen from cooperating with companies based in Cambodia or from sharing vessels or working on vessels that have flags that are from those countries blacklisted. So it is effectively stopping all such ties to the listed countries.

Amadei was frank in admitting that she does not know about this aspect of the sanction. The Ambassador told us that the sanction against Belize is based on the EU’s need to be assured that the country has control over the vessels flying its flags.

She said that the EU is ready to provide Belize with the technical assistance it may need to help address the matter.

She told us the EU decision against Belize “will continually be reviewed,” and is not “cast in stone.”

Spain has announced that after this weekend, EU countries will commence their ban of Belize imports from catches made by the high seas fishing fleet with operation in the world’s oceans.

According to the Government of Belize, its shipping registry currently has a fleet of 128 fishing vessels, of which about 20 fish in the Atlantic Ocean and discharge their fish at the European Union ports.

Amandala
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Live and let live

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