By Benjamin Flowers
Oceana in Belize has pledged to work with the authorities of the European Union to have the fisheries ban against Belize lifted.
In a statement this week Oceana Vice-President Janelle Chanona emphasized that having the ban lifted will be challenging, but is a necessity.
“Enforcement remains a major obstacle for many countries,” Chanona said. “This situation needs to be resolved before the repercussions become more serious than an international black eye.”
Earlier this month Oceana’s board of directors met with European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, and discussed, among other things, the ban.
While Damanaki was sympathetic to Belize, considering the financial issues the country is facing, she maintains that the ban must remain intact until Belize is compliant.
“Real change is never easy,” she said. “The same rules must be applied across the globe to achieve sustainability.”
The EU blacklisted Belize and two other countries in March 2014 for non-compliance with its illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing regulation 2010.
Under the sanction all vessels operating under the Belize flag were banned from selling fish to the EU.
The blacklist was first proposed by the European Commission and then subsequently approved by the member states of Europe.
Since the ban was imposed the government of Belize has taken steps to rectify the deficiencies in the infrastructure, including taking over the management of the International Merchant Marine Registry of Belize (IMMARBE), which registers and monitors the high seas vessels, on June 11, 2013.