In November of last year, the European Union banned the trade of seafood from Belize, Cambodia and Guinea. It was an international black-eye because it came after warnings were issued to these 3 countries and 5 others in 2012.

Those 5 countries got their act together, and started to comply with the requirements. But, as we told you, it wasn't so simple for Belize because IMMARBE, which was nationalized from the Ashcroft-Allied Belize International Services Limited, sold the Belizean flag as a flag of convenience to international vessels. This means that the fisheries violations that these vessels commit in the high seas has nothing to with Belize, but because they're flying the Belizean flag, the European authorities scrutinize the country harshly.

It's been 10 months since the EU Ban was issued, and as we told you the Government has been working on getting it lifted. Well, OCEANA, the multinational ocean conservation organization held their quarterly Board of Directors meeting in San Sebastian, Spain on September 9. At that event, OCEANA Belize's Vice President, Janelle Chanona managed to meet and discuss with the European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki. During that encounter, Chanona was able to get feedback from the Commissioner about the status of the ban, and according to the OCEANA Belize, she was, quote, "sympathetic" but firm.

Chanona recently returned back to the country, and we caught up with her yesterday to explain more about her discussion with Commissioner Damanaki. Here's what she told us:

Janelle Chanona, VP - OCEANA Belize
"The new commissioner Maria Damanaki was a special guest speaker at OCEANA's quarterly board meeting, so to me to just to see how OCEANA is perceived it was therefore very reassuring to see someone of that stature attending our session, but certainly Maria Damanaki made it clear that while she knows the context of Belize; the economic status and she is sympathetic towards that, that the ban is not blaming Belize, but it certainly more along the lines of tough love that they are only expecting countries fishing to adhere to the same rules that they are applying for themselves. This is really about making sure that sustainability is achieved and the only way that that can truly be achieved is by applying the same rules across the globe."

Daniel Ortiz
"Is the ambassador aware that many of those persons who violate the fisheries laws are those who fly our flags but are not necessarily Belizeans?"

Janelle Chanona, VP - OCEANA Belize
"Like I said she is aware of the context of it, but certainly it's kind of whoever holds a passport is a Belizean, so it still is classified as Belize whether you are just a Belize flag vessel or you are actually a Belize person and a Belize boat etc. Certainly, the situation is that we think that we are moving in the right direction and OCEANA stands ready to support to make sure that the necessary steps to make sure that this ban is lifted happens. That's the underlying theme here because certainly a ban is not just embarrassing, it can lead to other things and we certainly want to put that in check before it becomes worse than the international black eye."

A teleconference was held today between Europe and the Belize High Seas Fishing Unit to assess all Belize has done to meet standards.

Channel 7