European Commission calls out Ghana’s “shortcomings” in campaign against IUU fishing

Fishing boats in Senya Beraku in central Ghana

The European Commission has issued a warning (a so-called yellow card) to the Republic of Ghana that it risks being identified as a non-cooperating country in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

The commission said that its decision is based on “various shortcomings” in Ghana’s ability to comply with its duties under international law as flag, port, coastal or market state.

The identified shortcomings include illegal transhipments at sea of large quantities of undersized juvenile pelagic species between industrial trawl vessels and canoes in Ghanaian waters, deficiencies in the monitoring, control and surveillance of the fleet, and a legal framework that is not aligned with the relevant international obligations Ghana has signed up to.

Also, the commission said that sanctions imposed by Ghana to vessels engaging in or supporting IUU fishing activities are “not effective and not an adequate deterrent.”

The commission clarified that the yellow card is a warning and offers Ghana the opportunity to react and take measures to rectify the situation within a reasonable time.

At this stage, the decision does not entail any measures affecting trade. However, in cases of prolonged and continued non-compliance, countries can ultimately face a procedure of identification (a so-called red card), which entails sanctions such as the prohibition to export their fishery products to the EU market.

The Republic of Ghana had already received a yellow card in November 2013, which was then lifted in October 2015, after Ghana addressed earlier identified shortcomings.

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