The European Union (EU) Commission yesterday lifted the “Fisheries Yellow Card” placed on Ghana in 2013, following her failure to keep up with international obligations to fight illegal fishing.
The fisheries Yellow Card is a card issued to stop illegal fish products from entering the European market.
The card was issued because the country was unable to fight illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities which were contrary to the 2010 EU IUU regulation.
The Fisheries Yellow Card is a card issued to stop illegal fisheries products from entering the European markets.
The lifting of the yellow card and the issuance of “green card” to the country was a recognition by the EU Commission that Ghana has acquired all the legal and administrative framework to fully meet its responsibilities as coastal, flag, port and export state to prevent and deter IUU activities.
At a video conference in Accra yesterday to announce the decision, Madam Karmenu Vella, the European Union Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, also disclosed that the commission had also lifted the yellow card issued to Papua New Guinea in 2014.
She said the decision to lift the Fisheries Yellow Card to Ghana and Papua New Guinea was as a result of the constructive cooperation between those countries and the commission, leading to significant structural reforms in national fisheries management system to fight illegal fishing.
“Today’s decisions, demonstrate the extraordinary potential of the EU market to bring important players on board in the fight against IUU. Both Ghana and Papua New Guinea, have taken ownership of their fisheries reforms and now have robust legal and policy frameworks in place to fight IUU fishing activities”, she said.
Madam Vella said Ghana, an important fishing nation, with export of fishery products to the European market for about EUR 128 million per year, had developed new legislation, increased sanctions, improved its monitoring, control and inspection, and strengthened its traceability system.
Mr. William Hanna, EU Ambassador to Ghana, commended the country for the numerous reforms in the fishing industries.
“I welcome Ghana as a strategic partner in the fight against IUU fishing. The set of new reforms creates a level playing field for EU operators who are also subject to strict controls under the EU control regulation. It also benefits the coastal fisheries communities as they are the first victims of depleted stocks caused by IUU fishing,” he said.
Mr. Hanna said, the government of Ghana was now in the position to enforce fleet registration and licensing and a new vessel monitoring system was in place to locate vessels in Ghana’s waters in line with international standards.
According to him, the EU Commission would now end formal discussions with Ghana and look forward to continued cooperation in the fight against IUU fishing.
Mr. Benoist Bazin, Head of Section, Infrastructure and Sustainable Development at the EU Commission office in Accra said the country was in a good position now to become a regional leader in the fight against illegal fishing.
He said the country had met its international obligations under the 1995 United Nations (UN) Fish Stock Agreement, stressing that, the country had adopted a National Plan of Action.
Additionally, the country has also adopted an ambitious fisheries management plan and fleet strategy as well as adopted revised legislation strengthening its legal framework and introducing dissuasive sanctions.
Mr. Bazin said the Fisheries Enforcement Unit in the country was fully operational, ensuring effective monitoring, control and surveillance, and investments had been made in this area, adding that, procedures for validation and cross-checking of EU catch Certificates had been set up and implemented, thus ensuring improved traceability.
The lifting of the yellow cards on Ghana and Papua New Guinea yesterday is based on the EU’s ‘IUU Regulation’, which came into force in 2010.
This key instrument in the fight against illegal fishing ensures that only fisheries products that have been certified as legal.
By Joseph Edu Archison