More expected yellows and unexpected greens by the EU / by Francisco Blaha

The European Commission has today put Thailand on formal notice for not taking sufficient measures in the international fight against illegal fishing (IUU). As a result of  series of discussions with Thai authorities since 2011, the Commission has denounced the country's shortcomings in its fisheries monitoring, control and sanctioning systems and concludes that Thailand is not doing enough.

Personally, I have to say that this was long time due. Good on the EU for taking finally that step, it was obvious to many of us in this game, that there was no way that there was enough tuna coming with catch certs from the WCP (Western Central Pacific) to supply the EU market, furthermore the practices on their ports have been dubious at best. From a very reliable source I know that one of the main companies there is cupboard with many of the supplying countries official stamps  to be used to forge EU CCs (since they are not electronic - even if that was contemplated in the EU IUU regulation and after 5 years has not happen yet)

So, Thailand was not a surprise [Taiwan and China next please :-)]. What really did surprised me was that Philippines and Korea were "green carded".

Philipines case was intricately related to the PNG one, most of the problems relate to the lack of controls on their massive fleet operating in PNG waters (and I'm a witness of that). I have been heavily involved with PNG in this particular issue for the last year, and PNG system is very thorough at this stage and i hoped it will be good enough to be out of the yellow.

When I was in Philippines last December, I did not see anything as developed as in PNG. And while I'm not discrediting any efforts that Philippines may or may have not done, I really expected both countries to be green lighted at once at least or PNG first and then Philippine later, but not the oposite. But then i'm just a guy on the ground helping people and I have not many insights (nor I want to have!) in the politics behind these decisions.

And in regards Korea... well... if finally having requested their vessels to have a VMS was the start, i imagined that the depth of changes was much deeper, again my knowledge is only based on my evaluation of the importance that compliance has on the Korean vessels I see in the ports of the Pacific.

Solomons has a system as good as the best i have seen worldwide, and domestic fleet of 7 vessels only. We actually print the certificates, because the EU has not yet a portal for us to send the data electronically. So I was also disappointed to not see them "green carded".

In any case, I'm always been of the idea that "the perfect should not be on the way of the good". And the fact that I may not understand the reasons or politics behind the decisions, does not demerit the fact that the IUU issue is being advanced at forefront of public awareness.