Ghana has received another warning from the European Commission for shortcomings in its inability to comply with its duties under international law as a flag, port, coastal, or market state.
The European Commission is leading the fight against illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing worldwide.
With the issuance of the warning (yellow card), Ghana risks being identified as a non-cooperating country in the fight against Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing.
The warning offers Ghana an opportunity to take measures to rectify and react within a reasonable time to the situation.
Ghana’s trade at this stage will not be affected by the decision. However, in prolonged cases of non-compliance, the EU may issue a ‘ red card’ which entails sanctions such as prohibiting Ghana from exporting its fishery products to the EU market.
“The Commission stands for zero tolerance for IUU fishing. Ghana plays an important role in fisheries governance in West Africa.
Therefore, we stand ready to work with Ghana to address the threats IUU fishing poses to the sustainability of fish stocks, coastal communities, food security, and the profits of those fishermen and – women who follow the rules. Sustainable fisheries is key to better ocean governance.” Said, the Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius,
The European Commission has identified the following as Ghana’s shortcomings: illegal transshipments at sea of large quantities of undersized juvenile pelagic species between industrial trawl vessels and canoes in Ghanaian waters, deficiencies in the monitoring, control, and surveillance of the fleet, and a legal framework that is not aligned with the relevant international obligations Ghana has signed up to.
Furthermore, the sanctions imposed by Ghana to vessels engaging in or supporting IUU fishing activities are not effective and not an adequate deterrent.
According to the Commission, Ghana should ensure effective monitoring and control of the activities of its fishing vessels and adequate implementation of its enforcement and sanctioning system.
Additionally, It should ensure a sound fisheries management system to prevent fish stemming from IUU fishing activities from reaching its market or others, including the European one.
Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing is jeopardizing the very foundation of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and the EU’s international efforts to promote better ocean governance despite the Europeans Commission’s commitment to a zero-tolerance approach to IUU fishing under the European Green Deal and pursuing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal for conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, sea and marine resources.
The fight against illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing is also an important aspect of the EU Biodiversity Strategy’s objective to protect the marine environment.
In November 2013, the Republic of Ghana received a yellow card which was then lifted in October 2015, after Ghana addressed the shortcomings in the sector.
The European Union is the world’s biggest importer of fisheries products. The global value of IUU fishing is estimated at 10-20 billion euros per year.
About 11 to 26 million tonnes of fish are caught every year, illegally. This corresponds to almost 15% of world catches.
The EU’s ‘IUU Regulation’, entered into force in 2010, which is the basis of the Commission’s decision to issue yellow cards to countries. One of the pillars of the ‘IUU’ Regulation is the catch certification scheme that ensures that only legally caught fisheries products can get to the EU market.
Even though a county’s failure to cooperate in the framework of the dialogue can lead to the country being issued a “red card”, the IUU has been using dialogues that are based on cooperation and support to countries and are an important step in tackling IUU fishing, with sanctions which may include trade prohibition, which is only a last resort measure.
The Commission entered formal dialogues with 27 third -world countries in November 2012 and officially warned them of the need to take effective action to fight IUU fishing.
The EU is still working and helping such countries through capacity building and projects to end IUU.