Commission urges Senegal to intensify fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing

Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0 Author: jbdodane
Fishing boats in Dakar.

Today, the Commission has issued a ‘yellow card’ to Senegal, underscoring the urgent need for them to intensify their efforts in the fight against Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. This action is a part of the EU’s global commitment to combat IUU fishing and is a response to several years of significant deficiencies and a need for more cooperation from Senegal. The Commission’s decision relies on the grave shortcomings observed over the past few years in Senegal’s compliance system with its international obligations as a flag, port, coastal, or market State.

Deficiencies in Senegal’s monitoring, control, and surveillance systems have been identified in vessels flying the Senegalese flag and operating in waters outside the country’s jurisdiction and in the controls carried out on foreign fishing vessels at the Dakar port. Additionally, illegal exports from Senegal to the EU market have been detected, undermining the reliability of the traceability system on which the certification of the legality of fisheries products relies. Lastly, Senegal has not demonstrated sufficient willingness to cooperate with the Commission in fighting IUU fishing.

The Commission has a zero-tolerance approach towards IUU fishing, one of the most severe threats to the sustainable exploitation of living aquatic resources. IUU fishing jeopardises global efforts to promote better ocean governance and the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy. It also poses a significant hazard to the marine environment, the sustainability of fish stocks, and marine biodiversity. The fight against IUU fishing is an essential aspect of the European Green Deal, the EU’s biodiversity strategy, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal for the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean, seas, and marine resources.

“The European Commission is strongly committed to sustainable fisheries and efficient ocean governance. We have zero tolerance for IUU fishing and today we are taking action by giving Senegal a yellow card. Senegal plays an important role in fisheries governance in West Africa,” Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries said.

“The Commission acknowledges the recent actions taken by the new government (i.e. publication of the list of fishing licences, and the audit of the fishing fleet) and it is reassured by this. Therefore, we stand ready to cooperate actively with the country in the fight against IUU fishing, and in particular to help the country remedy the situation and address the threats that IUU fishing poses to the sustainability of fish stocks, coastal communities, food security and the livelihoods of fishers who abide by the rules,” Sinkevičius added.

The Commission has initiated a formal dialogue with Senegal, recognising the new Senegalese Government’s commitment to addressing the identified shortcomings and expressing its readiness to assist the country in its fight against IUU fishing. It is important to note that, at this stage, the decision does not entail any trade-related measures. The issuance of a ‘yellow card’ offers Senegal an opportunity to respond and rectify the situation within a reasonable timeframe. However, if non-compliance persists, it could lead to the country receiving a ‘red card,’ potentially resulting in sanctions such as a ban on exporting fishery products to the EU market.

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