EU fish ban causes $75 million loss: Sri Lanka
COLOMBO, July 22
Sri Lanka has suffered a revenue loss of $75 million because of a European Union ban on fish caught by Sri Lanka-flagged vessels since January, a government spokesman said on Wednesday.
Sri Lanka was a significant exporter of swordfish and tuna to countries in the EU, which blacklisted Sri Lanka in January for failing to combat illegal fishing.
Brussels accuses Sri Lanka of allowing vessels to fish the Indian Ocean without marine satellite positioning equipment, making it virtually impossible to monitor their movements.
Today, Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Mahishini Colonne said the government has been taking steps to address the issues raised by the EU.
Among them are fitting vessel monitoring systems on high sea fishing vessels, maintaining and updating a register of high sea fishing licences, banning vessels using harmful fishing methods and prosecuting those found to be fishing illegally.
Colonne said a technical evaluation mission from the Office of the Director General of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries in Brussels is expected to visit Sri Lanka in October and discuss further steps toward lifting the ban.
The EU warned Sri Lanka about breaking international rules on illegal fishing in November 2012. The bloc said it only accepts stocks caught at sustainable levels and certified as legal by the exporting country.
Environmental groups have welcomed the trade restrictions, noting that the move would also prohibit EU fishing vessels from working in Sri Lankan waters.
The EU slapped similar restrictions on Belize in March 2014 and removed them in December after the Latin American country adopted new legislation to combat illegal fishing and showed signs that it was respecting its international obligations.