EU Commission lifts it 'yellow card' for the Solomon Islands / by Francisco Blaha

For more than two years, I have been working a lot on the Solomon Islands to help their efforts to get off the "yellow card" that was handed to them in December 2014. I wrote many times about my work there and how much I love the fishing town of Noro "what fishing in the Pacific should be". So when today, the announcement came, it was good news.

One of the many training sessions we did over the last two years

One of the many training sessions we did over the last two years

Not going argue on the merits of the yellow card (there is no point on it at this stage) but rather honour the fact that a lot of people in the country, its industry, government and organisations like FFA and NZ AID, put a lot of effort for this to happen.

Everyone involved deserves a: "Good Job brothers and sisters". Yet, the hardest bit is just now ahead... maintain the effort now that the pressure is not on.

The press release of the EU said:
Speaking on the margins of the Economist's World Ocean Summit in Bali, EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, said: “This is a good day for Curaçao and Solomon Islands, and good news for sustainable fisheries around the globe. Countries worldwide have a shared duty to fight illegal fishing, protect law-abiding fishermen, and keep our oceans healthy. 

Under the IUU Regulation, the European Commission warned Curaçao in November 2013 and Solomon Islands in December 2014 that they were not doing enough against IUU fishing. Since then, both countries have embarked on a series of reforms to bring their fisheries legal and administrative frameworks in line with international law, and are now equipped to tackle illegal fishing effectively. Working closely with the European Commission, they have strengthened their sanctioning system, and have improved monitoring and control of their fleets.

Interestingly, my friend Gilles reaction to this news was spot on:

what i find striking in news items relating to EU yellow, red and green cards – such as this one above – is the complete lack of journalistic curiosity and scrutiny regarding the seemingly random selection by the EU of so-called “third” countries, threatening them with trade sanctions for their perceived lack of commitment to combat IUU fishing. does it ever occur to anybody that 38% of all south-west pacific island nations have been yellow-carded under the EU IUU regulation – when only 24% of countries in asia, and 0% in south america, the near east and in europe have been objects of such cards? yes, of course it is nice for the solomons to have that threat lifted – as it would be for any ACP country totally dependent on the EU seafood market for the continued survival of its export sector – but would it not be equally important to question how it is possible that small countryies like the solomons are serially pre-identified by the EU commission, and threatened with the extinction of their seafood trade sectors, while other major fishing nations – in their role as recognised state-soponsors of international IUU fishing ventures – are never even making it onto the EU radar!? i am missing the elements of critical and vital news reporting here.