European Union Proposes Ban on Fish Imports From Belize, Cambodia, and Guinea

Nov 27, 2013 02:53 PM EST | By Dina Exil

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Fish imports from Cambodia, Belize and Guinea may be banned from the European Union for allowing illegal fishing operations.

According to Reuters, Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki announced in a statement Tuesday that she recommended the ban due to the countries failure to tackle illegal fishing.

"We import 65% of the fish our citizens eat and we would like to be sure that all this fish we eat is fished in a legal way," Damanaki said. "EU ships are not going to fish in their waters and there will be no cooperation with fishing vessels flagged from these countries."

Three more countries, including South Korea and Ghana have been warned that they are in danger of facing a similar ban, in the first major proposal against countries failing to discontinue illegal fishing for people who do not have the correct permit.

The countries did not fully co-operate with the EU, but have been advised to the necessary steps to address the problem. Damanaki said the heart of the problem is the lack of control on the country's bases.

"The EU is a huge market for seafood, so it is critical that the council should act to ensure that only legally caught fish are reaching consumers, said Tony Long, director of the Ending Illegal Fishing Programme at the Pew Charitable Trusts. "While the three countries cited do not represent the whole picture, we are pleased that the European commission is continuing to investigate other countries known for their lax enforcement of illegal fishing."

Reuters reported the European Union is considered the world's top importer of fresh, frozen fish and seafood. The union has been criticized for not putting enough pressure on countries to pervert illegal fishing.

"These decisions show our steadfast commitment to tackling illegal fishing," Damanaki said in a statement. "We continue to put pressure on the countries which are fueling the supply chain of illegal fishing."

According to Damanaki, five countries -- Fiji, Panama, Sri Lanka, Togo and Vanuatu -- were on the chopping block to being ban, but have made good progress in address the problem.

Reuters reported about 26 million tons of fish are caught illegally each year worldwide, estimating in $13.5 billion.

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