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EC warns Panama over insufficient action to fight against illegal fishing

EUROPEAN UNION
Friday, December 13, 2019, 02:30 (GMT + 9)

The European Commission has notified the Republic of Panama about the risk of being identified as a non-cooperating country in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

The Republic of Panama had already received a yellow card in November 2012, which was then lifted in October 2014.

Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, said: “Today's decision confirms our determination to maintain the fight against IUU high on the European Commission agenda, and to ensure that results achieved under the IUU Regulation are long lasting ones. We hope that Panama authorities will swiftly step up their efforts and implement the necessary measures to demonstrate their commitment in the fight against IUU fishing. Fighting illegal fishing has been a fundamental part of the EU's action to improve ocean governance over the last ten years, and this Commission will continue our fight against IUU fishing with a zero-tolerance approach”.

Today's decision is based on the identification of various shortcomings that constitute significant backtracking compared to improvements observed from 2012 to 2014. This undermines the country's ability to comply with its duties under international law as flag, port, coastal and market state.

Panama is encouraged to step up its actions to ensure adequate control over the activities of its vessels to prevent and deter them from engaging or supporting IUU fishing.

Panamanian reefer receiving tuna from a purse seine fishing vessel. (Photo: Francisco Blaha)

In particular, Panama should ensure an effective monitoring of the activities of its fishing and fishing related vessels and an adequate implementation of its enforcement and sanctioning system. In addition, it should also ensure adequate implementation of the ‘Port State Measures Agreement' in order to prevent fish stemming from IUU fishing activities from reaching its market or others, and to deter IUU fishing vessels from receiving port services. An adequate control of the activity of processing plants – especially those exporting to the EU – is of paramount importance.

The yellow card is a warning and offers Panama the chance to react and take measures to rectify the situation within a reasonable time.


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