Thursday, April 29, 2004 · Last updated 8:03 a.m. PT
EU imposes ban on import of tuna
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
BRUSSELS, Belgium — The European Union on Thursday banned the import of tuna and swordfish products from Bolivia, Cambodia, Georgia, Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea, claiming their fishing practices endanger Atlantic stocks.
EU officials said the move is intended to force the five countries to abide by international standards on sustainable fishing.
Many boats fly the colors of the five countries as flags of convenience because of those nations’ loose regulations and lax enforcement. The EU said such vessels often fail to respect international conservation rules.
The sanctions will not have a large impact because the five countries do not export the fish products to the EU. But the union said it was important to send “a clear signal that it will take action to support international efforts … by closing its market.”
EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy said in a statement the sanctions “to conserve and manage fish stocks are essential to make sure we still have fish in the sea.”
The EU said it can impose the sanctions as a member of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, which also manages swordfish populations.
The five countries were overfishing Atlantic bigeye and bluefin tuna, as well as Atlantic swordfish species, the EU said.
Meanwhile, the EU lifted similar sanctions on Belize, Honduras and St. Vincent and the Grenadines because they had updated their fishing practices.