The European Commission has issued a notification to the Republic of Ecuador urging it to take stricter action against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
The Commission has issued Ecuador with a ‘yellow card’, cautioning the country it is at risk of being sidelined as a non-co-operative entity. The process, formally known as ‘pre-identification’, triggers a formal dialogue between the Commission and the offending state with the goal of collaborating to address areas of concern. The yellow card has been issued in response to shortcomings identified by the Commission in Ecuador’s enforcement of international standards prohibiting the trade and import of products deriving from illegal fishing practices.
Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, said: “Ecuador is a major trade partner for fishery products. We have a huge responsibility towards the EU consumers to make sure that the imports from this country only stem from legal fishing activities. The European Commission has detected shortcomings that hinder the capacity of Ecuador to provide this assurance. We invite the Ecuadorian authorities to step up their efforts and implement the necessary reforms to fight against IUU fishing.”
The Commission notes that illegal fishing in Ecuador is not subject to sufficiently stringent sanctions or enforcement; and that fish and seafood processing plants in the region are broadly underregulated, particularly those which export products to the EU. The yellow card does not affect trade with the region, acting instead as a warning of potential future exclusion from EU trade if decisive action is not taken promptly.
Commissioner Vella added: “We stand ready to work closely with Ecuador to tackle the identified issues and raise the standards of fisheries management. Fighting illegal fishing has been an integral part of the EU’s action to improve ocean governance over the last ten years, and it will remain high on the political agenda also under the incoming Commission.”