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Yellow Card On IUU Fishing For Sri Lanka Withdrawn

Sri Lanka has been able to get the adversary announcement issued by the European Union to the local fishing industry over the allegation of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing (IUU) by Sri Lankan fishermen in international waters, removed, state-run radio reported.

Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic resources Dr. Rajitha Senaratne has told media today that he held discussions with the Director-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of European Union in Brussels, Belgium over the allegations last month.

The Minister said following the discussions he was able to get the yellow card withdrawn and get a green card which allows for the country's fishermen to engage in fishing activities without any obstacle.

The EU issued Yellow Card warning last year to Sri Lanka following complaints of 11 Sri Lankan vessels intruding into international waters in 2011for fishing and fishermen violating the international maritime boundary laws.

Minister Senaratne said Sri Lanka has taken several measures to remedy the situation and the EU was pleased with the measures. The Director- General will make her recommendations to the European parliament in the middle of this month, he said.

The European Union has taken 13 Sri Lankan fishing vessels into custody in the past for violating the international maritime boundaries. However, the number of vessels violating the international laws was reduced to 11 in 2011 and it was further reduced last year. No fishing vessel belonging to Sri Lanka was taken into custody by the European Union this year.

The Ministry of Fisheries has conducted a program to raise awareness among the fishermen on violations and the program has helped to reduce the number of violations.

The Minister has earlier told media that the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Act No. 2 of 1996 would be amended to introduce stiff penalties for vessels violating international maritime laws.

According to the Minister a fine of Rs.1.5 million or two year imprisonment, and confiscation of fishing equipment are some of the punishments proposed in the new legislation.