/ 9 January 2023

EU blacklists Cameroon over illegal fishing

​there's A Crisis In Our Oceans, Illegal Fishing Dwarfs Ivory And Rhino Horn Poaching

The European Commission has banned the import of seafood from Cameroon to the European Union, punishing the country for its lack of action against illegal fishing. 

The ban will stay in effect until Cameroon complies with the EU’s Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing regulation.

The “red card” was issued to the Central African country last week, nearly two years after it received a yellow card, which was supposed to be a warning and make Cameroon take the issue seriously.

Back then, the government was supposed to “step up its actions against IUU fishing” to avoid a red card. At the time, the commission had identified shortcomings in Cameroon’s ability to comply with international standards regarding flag, port and market.

Local officials should develop a robust registration policy for fishing vessels entitled to operate under the country’s flag and “ensure an efficient and adequate control over fishing activities carried out by vessels flying its flag”, the EU Commission said in a news release two years ago.

Cameroon was blacklisted based “on the persistence” of “serious shortcomings”, the commission said. Authorities had failed “to ensure adequate control over the national fishing fleet” and to take necessary corrective “measures for the cessation and prevention of IUU fishing activities”, it added.

Fishing vessels operating outside Cameroon’s waters, including IUU fishing vessels, continued to be registered by the country which has not been monitoring their activities.

The global value of IUU fishing is worth up to €20 billion a year, while between 11 and 26 million tonnes of fish are caught illegally every year.

IUU fishing is one of the many environmentally unsustainable activities that prevent EU countries from reaching the so-called European Green Deal, which aims to set the continent on the path to a green transition, making it the first “climate-neutral continent” by 2050.

The commission remains ready to continue the dialogue with Cameroon “to address the threats that IUU fishing poses to the sustainable exploitation of the sea”, said Virginijus Sinkevičius, the European Commissioner for the Environment.

“Sustainable fisheries and better ocean governance go hand in hand and the” EU is “firmly committed to both”, he added.

This article was first published by The Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.