By Amy R. Remo
The European Union on Tuesday cleared the way for Philippine fish exports to the 28-member bloc after it took stock of the country's achievements in curbing illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
The so-called “yellow card” issued in June 2014 served as a warning that, unless the Philippines implemented stronger measures against IUU fishing, Philippine fish exports would be permanently banned in the EU.
“The Philippines has taken responsible action, amended its legal systems and switched to a proactive approach against illegal fishing,” European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella said in a statement.
“This recognition means that the identification procedure that had started with a yellow card in June 2014 is stopped … thanks to the good work done by the Philippines government and Congress,” EU ambassador to the Philippines Guy Ledoux, added.
The EU said that, in revoking the yellow card, it acknowledged the Philippines’ efforts to reduce the incidence of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
Since an official dialogue started, the Philippines embarked on a series of reforms to upgrade its fisheries governance and successfully aligned it with international law.
These efforts were supported by the EU through technical assistance granted to the Philippines’ agriculture department.
The lifting of the yellow card is considered a significant development for the Philippine fisheries sector because it is expected to further boost exports to Europe.
Data showed that fishery shipments from the Philippines to the EU amounted to 170 million euros (US$181.81 million) in 2013, out of a total of 5.1 billion euros.
Being the world’s biggest fish importer, the European Union said it would close its markets to those trading in illegally caught fish.
The value of fish illegally caught worldwide was estimated at 10 billion euros a year. This accounted for at least 11 million tonnes, or about 15 per cent of the total global catch, the EU said.