Another yellow card in the pacific / by Francisco Blaha

Much has been on the news on another Yellow Card for the Pacific, this time Kiribati. And this is significant.

2014 figures

2014 figures

The EU press releases says:

The EU's warning to Kiribati is based on concerns about the country's capacity to control fishing activities by foreign fleets. There are serious risks that illegally caught fish could be laundered through the ports of Kiribati, as they do not have robust traceability systems in place for fisheries products. Kiribati's unwillingness to share important information on third country vessels operating in their waters undermines the Commission's work to improve transparency and sustainability of tuna resources in the Western and Central Pacific.

A couple of DG MARE officers were there earlier this year and did an assessment of the situation, and their results (and the yellow) did not come as a surprise to many people in the game.

And while a red would only impact a few foreign DWFN vessels that are flagged there, the significance for me comes from two non-related factors:

1) In 2014 (and similarly in 2015 I assume) more Tuna was caught in the Kiribati EEZ than in the Whole Eastern Pacific ocean and a bit less than in the whole Indian Ocean. No country has more tuna in its waters than Kiribati and Tarawa is (allegedly) the busiest Tuna transshipping port in the Pacific.

2) Kiribati is one of two countries in the Pacific (the other one is the Cooks) that actually has/had a "Fisheries Partnership Agreement" with the EU. This brings an interesting twist to the fact that the EU is in a fisheries agreement with a country that seems (in the own views) a non-totally cooperating country in terms of IUU fishing.

From the personal perspective, it looks like i may be spending more time there... since helping countries out of yellow seems to have become part of my staple workload (Fiji, Vanuatu, PNG so far, and allegedly Solomons quite soon) :-)