PATRICK E. JONES Reporting: The government of Prime Minister Dean Barrow has reacted “with concern” to the news that the European Union has blacklisted Belize as a country that is not cooperating in the fight against illegal fishing.
The ban on Fisheries products was announced on Monday and joining Belize on the blacklist were Cambodia and Guinea.
A statement issued by the Government of Belize this morning said that “there was absolutely no justification for this action as Belize has taken all necessary steps required by the E.U’s Directorate General of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) to eradicate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.”
According to the government statement, “the decision of the EU Council is based on outdated information and takes no account of the measures adopted by Belize within the last six (6) months to strengthen its high seas fishing regime.”
The statement then goes on to list what Belize has been doing to try to avoid the international sanction, such as enactment of tougher legislation last November that prescribed stiffer penalties for violations of international fishing regulations by ships that are flying the Belize flag of convenience.
Another measure which Belmopan said it has implemented in a move to try an avoid sanction was the hiring of the South African company Capricorn Fisheries Monitoring, which is to provide “On Sea Observer services for Belize flagged vessels at a cost of about US$200,000 for the first year.” But while the list of measures taken to improve Belize’s participation in the fight against illegal fishing are robust, according to Belmopan, the news of those measures appears to have been slow in reaching the European Union, hence the blacklisting of Belize.
Still, the Barrow administration says it will continue to implement other measures “relating to the size of our fleet and the adoption of monitoring, control and surveillance regulations,” and then, hopefully, the EU’s Directorate General of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries “would then make a recommendation to the EU Council to remove Belize from the list of non-cooperating third countries, when the Council reconvenes in September this year.”
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