Mangala leaves for Brussels, seeks postponement of fish export banView(s):
Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera will leave for Brussels on Monday to negotiate a postponement of the European Commission’s ban on fish exports from Sri Lanka.
“We will try to see if we can get a postponement of this ban for at least for six months till we rectify whatever was not correct at ground level,” the minister told the Sunday Times.
Along with the minister’s visit, the new Government has moved quickly to amend the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Act to comply with measures to get the ban lifted. The Bill was presented to Parliament on Tuesday and is likely to be taken up for debate early next month.
Meanwhile the European Union confirmed that the ban on the Sri Lankan fisheries products became effective from January 14, 2015 but said the Commission would continue to work closely with the government to guide it towards a better system against illegal fishing.
“For de-listing it must be demonstrated that the situation that warranted its listing has been rectified and concrete measures have been taken. The Commission is constantly monitoring the process of implementation of the recommendations made for Sri Lanka. So far, a number of measures have already been implemented; however other important actions have not yet been implemented,” a spokesperson for the EU said.
The EU announced this week that any fisheries products validated before January 14 could still be accepted by EU countries until the Council adopted the decision to list Sri Lanka as a non-cooperating country.
The EU commission noted that there were recent examples of countries which had got a reversal of the ban. In October Belize was removed from the blacklist after it undertook a reform of its legal framework and a new set of rules for inspection, control and monitoring of vessels.
Earlier, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, had written to the EU seeking a six month grace period to implement the EU recommendations. The letter had been handed over to the EU mission in Colombo.
Mr. Wickremesinghe has assured the new Government would meet the requirements of the EU within six months.
The ban has seriously affected the local fishing and fisheries export industries. Sri Lanka is the second biggest exporter of fresh and chilled swordfish and tuna to the EU, with 74 million euros worth of exports in 2013.