Sri Lanka cautious of EU proposal against illegal fishing

India and Sri Lanka are among 80 other countries that have raised reservations against an EU proposal to determine illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, the Economic Times reported.

The EU has suggested giving powers to countries to keep illegal operators out of their ports and prevent them from landing illegal catches, a move that has divided the World Trade Organization (WTO) membership as it would require additional infrastructure and costs.
Officials said the proposal seeks to add a new dimension to the negotiations to eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing whose deadline for conclusion was end of this year, which now will be missed.

“A new dimension is being added to determine IUU, which will be discussed next month,” said an official in the know of the development. “The EU proposal talks of refusal to berthing and landing by a port state, which has divided the house because developed members with the capacity are favouring it.”

Negotiators said India, Sri Lanka and the group of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries may not be willing to agree with the proposal as it would entail higher costs and capacity building. New Delhi is not a signatory to the global agreement on port state measures.

At present, only two entities can determine IUU—a coastal state and Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMO). A coastal state or a country can decide if any activity is IUU in up to 200 nautical miles from the shore, called the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). RFMO, on the other hand, has jurisdiction over high seas.

“There is also discussion around the fact if the subsidy of the vessel involved in harmful fishing should be stopped or of the operator running that vessel,” the official said.