ItÂs been revealed that BelizeÂs fisheries have been placed on a blacklist by the European Union (EU) after it was stated the country was not doing enough to reduce illegal fishing. Â The announcement first came on November 25th, when a letter was sent to the EU by the European Commission. Â As a response, BelizeÂs Prime Minister, Dean Barrow, has been quick to calm fears by saying that local fishermen wonÂt be affected.
For those living in Belize, many jobs are found within the fishing industry. Â The latest blacklist may have worried a lot of people who are now concerned about the future of their jobs. Â Belize was not alone in the blacklisting either, with both Guinea and Cambodia highlighted as not doing enough to stop overfishing and illegal practices from occurring in international waters. Â In the memo from the EU, it said: ÂOut of the eight countries who received a warning in 2012, only Belize, Cambodia and Guinea have not made credible progress in fulfilling their duties under international law and have failed to improve the situation. Â The European Commission will also submit a proposalÂ to place Belize (and the other countries) on the list of non-cooperating countries.Â
Changes in BelizeÂs fisheries first started taking place in June, when the privately owned International Merchant Marine Registry of Belize (IMMARBE) was taken over by the Government of Belize. Â Mr. Barrow explained that although the IMMARBE was responsible for providing the sale of flags of convenience to international fishing ships, the organization had not been able to monitor these sales. Â As a result, the government was to take over after facing increasing pressure from the EU because of the number of vessels carrying Belizean flags. Â A new High Seas Bill was also drawn up, though this has yet to come into effect.
Speaking on November 27th, Mr. Barrow said that the government would do everything they could to correct the blacklist, even if it meant deregistering vessels. Â He added that the ban will not affect BelizeÂs hardworking local fishermen, and is only concerned with the international sale of products coming directly from international fishing ships carrying a Belizean flag. Â However, the impact could be great, as the world sees that Belize is one of a few countries to tolerate illegal fishing. Â If the correct steps are taken, the EUÂs decision can be retracted, so itÂs hoped the situation will quickly be resolved.