European Commission Praised for Warning the Comoros and Taiwan, PoC on Illegal Fishing

Press Release Date: October 1, 2015

Location: Madrid


Marta Madina | email: | tel.: Marta Madina

BRUSSELS—The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), Oceana, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and WWF commended the European Commission today for issuing an official warning—known as a “yellow card”—to the Comoros and Taiwan, PoC for failing to take sufficient action to combat illegal fishing. The groups also welcomed the Commission’s publication of a Communication to the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament on implementation of the EU’s illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing regulation.

The Comoros, an island nation off Africa in the Indian Ocean, has a Fisheries Partnership Agreement with the EU that in 2014 was worth €600,000, of which €300,000 was earmarked to promote fisheries sustainability. Taiwan, PoC is one of the world’s most important distant-water fishing powers.

The warnings mean that if Taiwan, PoC and the Comoros continue to fail in combating IUU fishing, they will be banned from importing seafood into the EU and face other sanctions.

“Issuing these yellow cards provides a wake-up call to take the fight against illegal fishing seriously. The Comoros and Taiwan, PoC now have the opportunity to take decisive action and work with the European Commission in order to avoid a trade ban,” said Tony Long, director of Pew’s project to end illegal fishing.

Long praised Karmenu Vella, the EU’s Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. “This carding, along with publication of the Communication, demonstrates Commissioner Vella’s leadership in combating illegal fishing globally,” he said.

Eszter Hidas, EU policy officer for WWF’s Illegal Fishing programme said, “These jurisdictions have overlooked their international obligation to combat illegal fishing, which can have devastating effects on the marine environment and dependant fishing communities. They must realise that it is in their own interest not to jeopardise sustainability. Yellow cards have proved to be effective in encouraging countries to address their failures in combating illegal fishing, and we hope that with the EU’s support, the Comoros and Taiwan, PoC will follow suit.”

Separately, the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament will now formally consider the Commission Communication and its recommendations on the EU IUU regulation.

The yellow carding follows months of discussions between the Commission and the Comoros and Taiwan, PoC, and the failure of either to address shortcomings in efforts to combat IUU fishing and comply with international fisheries law. Each now must take decisive action to avoid a “red card,” which would result in a ban on seafood imports to the EU from the Comoros and Taiwan, PoC.

In other action today, the Commission lifted the threat of sanctions against Ghana and Papua New Guinea—issuing a “green card” to each. This is the third time since 2010 that the Commission has withdrawn yellow card status, increasing the list of green-carded states to nine and highlighting the EU’s positive incentives for states to adopt measures to stop illegal fishing.


Notes to Editors:

  • The EU IUU regulation came into effect in 2010 to promote better ocean governance and safeguard the sustainability of fisheries globally.
  • The value of fish caught illegally each year has been estimated at €8 billion to €19 billion, representing 11 million to 26 million tonnes of catch globally.
  • The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), Oceana, The Pew Charitable Trusts and WWF are working to support effective and harmonised implementation of the EU IUU regulation. Harmonised implementation across EU Member States is crucial, because they provide points of entry for imported fish and are responsible for stopping illegal fish from entering the EU market. The European Commission plays a vital role in supporting and coordinating efforts by Member States.
  • The EU’s Fisheries Partnership Agreement (FPA) with the Comoros has been renewed through 2018. In 2014, 28 vessels from Spain and France were authorised to fish in waters of the Comoros.
  • As a result of investigations carried out by the European Commission under the IUU regulation, the Comoros imposed sanctions against a number of vessels.
  • In 2013, the Taiwan, PoCese tuna longline and purse seine fleets caught over 350,000 tonnes of tuna, ranking Taiwan, PoC as the fourth-largest tuna catching jurisdiction globally, according to FAO Fishstat.