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“Yellow Card” For Vanuatu On IUU, Headache For Tuna Exporters To EU Vanuatu, June 17, 13

High-level talks are being held in Vanuatu after the European Union issued the country a “yellow card” for illegal unreported unregulated fishing. The outcome of this meeting could have far-reaching consequences for the tuna processors who have exported this tuna to the European Union.

A fisheries management and policy officer from the Department of Fisheries, Christopher Arthur, says the yellow card means Vanuatu has not complied with certain international legal obligations the country is expected to follow.

Mr. Arthur says the EU wants to make sure that the laws that govern Vanuatu’s tuna fishing are not breached by Vanuatu-based fishing boats.

He says since the fishing boats also fish in international waters, it is important that their entire tuna catch is ’clean’ as any illegal unreported unregulated catch could threaten Vanuatu’s tuna export to the European market.

The EU says it is holding talks with the Vanuatu Government this week to reach common ground.

If indeed fish which is landed under Vanuatu flag is considered IUU fish by the EU, this would immediately pose a problem for processors from Thailand exporting this tuna to the European Union.

Currently about 20 foreign owned tuna purse seiners are fishing in the waters of Vanuatu, and they represent a combined total catch capacity of almost 27,000 GRT.

18 of the purse seiners fishing under Vanuatu flag have Taiwanese owners, and 2 are owned by an Ecuadorian company.

Also 33 longliners are registered under the country flag, also mostly Taiwanese owned.

In 2011, the country reported a catch of 37,053 M/T of tuna being caught by vessels flying its flag, making it the lowest catch since 2007.