Sri Lanka confident of EU fishery ban being revoked

Colombo, March 18 (IANS) Sri Lanka will send a high-level team to Brussels on March 30 to hold talks on a fishery ban imposed by the EU, a statement by the Ministry of International Trade said here on Friday.

“We will conduct a decisive meeting with EU on the fishery ban issue and its outcome will determine our fishery export outlook to Europe in future. We believe the outcome shall be favourable for Sri Lanka,” Xinhua quoted Chairman of Seafood Exporters Association of Sri Lanka (SEASL) and Managing Director of Global Sea Foods, Prabhash Subasinghe, as saying.

The Sri Lankan team shall include members from the Prime Ministerial Task Force on the EU Fishery ban.

The European Commission enforced a ban on imports of fisheries products from Sri Lanka in 2014, its second biggest importer in the sector, in order to “tackle the commercial benefits stemming from illegal fishing”.

Sri Lanka received a “yellow card”, a stern warning, in November 2012, as the country was not complying with international rules on illegal fishing and had inadequate control systems.

In 2014, the EU announced the ban stating that Sri Lanka was not complying with international rules on illegal fishing and Sri Lankan control systems were still inadequate, the European Commission had said.

Fisheries products caught by vessels flagged in Sri Lanka would not be able to enter the EU market, it said.

However the new government of President Maithripala Sirisena, who was sworn to power in a parliamentary election in August last year said that 95 percent of the compliance work on the EU Fishery ban had been completed by the government and they hoped the EU would revoke its ban this year.

The EU imported 7,400 tonnes of fish from Sri Lanka in 2013 with a total value of $83 million.

Sri Lanka is one of the biggest exporters to the EU of high value fishery products such as fresh and chilled swordfish, tuna and tuna-like species.

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