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EU Lifts Yellow Card Warning on Philippine Fisheries

EU Lifts Yellow Card Warning on Philippine Fisheries

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The European Union (EU) on 21 April lifted the nation’s Yellow Card fisheries rating, which was slapped onto the Philippines in June 2014 for inadequately addressing illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing or IUUF.

After a hard night's work, a fisherman in Mindoro proudly returns with a 43-kilogramme Yellowfin Tuna (Thunnus albacares). Fish of the highest quality are destined for western markets. (WWF-Philippines / Gregg Yan)

After a hard night’s work, a fisherman in Mindoro proudly returns with a 43-kilogramme Yellowfin Tuna (Thunnus albacares). Fish of the highest quality are destined for western markets.
(WWF-Philippines / Gregg Yan)

In a statement, the EU said it has lifted the “yellow card” warning on the Philippines following its efforts to fight illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

The EU cited the February 27 passage of Republic Act No. 10654, which amended the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, adding IUUF as an offense and increasing the penalty for such practices.

“The Philippines has taken responsible action, amended its legal systems and switched to proactive approach against illegal fishing,” European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella said in the statement.

The EU also recognized “the improvement of the traceability and catch certification schemes, reinforced cooperation with Papua New Guinea for inspection and control and coverage of the activities of the long distant fleet operating beyond Philippine waters.”

The EU imposed the yellow card in June last year. Failure to address the concerns would have resulted in the Philippines’ downgrade to a non-cooperating country, risking sanctions and jeopardizing marine exports to the EU.

The EU is the world’s top fish consumer, importing PHP 9.4 billion worth of seafood from the Philippines in 2013. The EU has sanctioned nations which ignore international fishing standards since 2010.

“We are pleased with this development as it formally recognizes the government’s serious efforts to prevent and eliminate all forms of fisheries resource abuse,” said Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala.

“The country’s effort against IUUF is anchored on its commitment as member of the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (UN-FAO), which adopted the International Plan of Action (IPOA) to prevent, deter and eliminate IUUF,” he said.

“In line with this commitment, after a series of consultation with stakeholders, the Philippines formally adopted a National Plan of Action (NPOA) through Executive Order No. 154 which was signed by President Benigno Aquino III in 2013,” he said.

The rating served to warn the country that unless it took steps to seriously combat IUUF, all Philippine seafood products would be banned in the EU.

“The Philippines has fortunately taken responsible action, amended pertinent legal systems and switched to a more proactive approach to fight IUUF,” says EU Ambassador to the Philippines Guy Ledoux. The country now has a Green Card fisheries rating, allowing it to export products to the EU without sanctions.

Among the steps taken by the Philippines to curb IUUF are the amendment of its aging fisheries code, the creation of a national plan of action against IUUF, a decision to freeze new fishing licenses for three years, significant reinforcement of human and financial resources for fisheries, plus new rules on inspection, catch certification and traceability.

The EU estimates that up to 26 million tonnes of seafood – 15% of global yields – are caught via IUUF. “Our oceans are nearly in collapse with over 80% of global fish stocks overexploited,” explains World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Philippines) President and CEO Joel Palma.

“BFAR has pointed out that 10 of the country’s 13 major fishing areas are heavily exploited. With our population ballooning, can we afford to lose the systems that provide us with food? We call on the fisheries sector to sustain our seas.”

(Story courtesy of WWF-Philippines and Interaksyon.com)

Avatar of Coral Triangle Written by Coral Triangle

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