Papua New Guinea warned over insufficient action against illegal fishing / by Francisco Blaha

Kids fishing in Kavieng, Niu Irelan, PNG

Kids fishing in Kavieng, Niu Irelan, PNG

The European Commission (CE) as officially warned Philippines and Papua New Guinea (PNG) over insufficient action to fight against illegal fishing. The decision highlights that these countries are not doing enough to fight illegal fishing. 

It identifies a series shortcomings, such as lack of full implementation of its system of sanctions to deter IUU activities deficiencies in monitoring, controlling and surveillance (MCS activities) of fisheries.

Is important to know that Philippines and PNG have a very complex and intertwine fisheries, with many Philippine flagged vessels operating in the PNG EEZ, adding a level of complexity to fisheries controls.  

The decision does not, at this stage, entail any measures affecting trade. Both countries are being given a "yellow card" warning and a reasonable time to respond and take measures to rectify the situation. 

The Commission has also proposed an action plan for each country to address the shortcomings. Should the situation not improve within six months, the EU could take further steps, which could entail trade sanctions on fisheries imports, as was done recently with Guinea, Belize and Cambodia.

The Commission considers that the Philippines and PNG do not currently completely fulfil their duties as flag, coastal, port or market State in line with international law.  The decision follows a long period of informal discussions with the countries in question since 2012. A formal procedure of dialogue with these countries to resolve the identified issues and implement the necessary action plans will now take place.

On a side note, we (FFA/DevFish II) has been working with PNG for various years now on legal instruments, capacity building, developing a Plan of Action against IUU fishing (NPoA – IUU) and Standard Operating Procedures and Catch Certification (my jobs). 

Nevertheless, while we can facilitate, nothing we can do replaces the country’s own responsibility in regards the implementation of the requirements.

Looking forwards to the challenge of helping PNG work his way out of this situation.

Official EU press release here