Colombo, April 21 (IANS) The Sri Lankan government on Thursday said the European Union has lifted a ban imposed on Sri Lankan fisheries products, thus paving the way for fish exports to the EU.
Fisheries Minister Mahinda Amaraweera told Xinhua news agency that following lengthy discussions between the Sri Lankan government and EU officials, the EU had informed the government that the ban had been lifted.
“The EU has decided to lift the ban with no conditions. They have officially informed us and we can begin our fish exports to the EU once again,” Amaraweera said.
An EU statement released in Colombo on Thursday said that the European Commission decided to propose the lifting of the ban on fish exports from Sri Lanka to the European Union, while warning Kiribati, Sierra Leone and Trinidad & Tobago with yellow cards as they risk being uncooperative in the fight against illegal fishing.
The European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, quoted in the statement said that Sri Lanka now had a robust legal and policy framework to fight illegal fishing activities.
The EU ban took effect in January last year over the failure of the previous government to prevent local fishermen from violating international fisheries laws.
The Sri Lankan government said that it was facing a loss of over $100 million per year because of the ban.
The country’s fish exports to the European Union make up 68 percent of its total fish exports
The remaining 32 percent is sent to the US, Japan and other non-EU countries.