The European Union (EU) has lifted its 15-month-long ban on Sri Lanka’s fisheries exports.
Prior to the ban imposed in January 2015, the EU accounted for nearly one-third of Sri Lanka’s fish exports in terms of volume and about 40 per cent of the exports in terms of revenue Against the total fish export earnings of $ 267 million that year, Sri Lanka got $ 108 million from the Europe.
The ban was imposed on the ground that Sri Lanka indulged in “illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.” The Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government blamed the previous government for failing “to comply with international regulations despite repeated warnings [from the EU].”
Mangala Samaraweera, Foreign Minister, said the EU Commission’s recommendation to revoke the ban had been forwarded to the EU Council. This was expected to come into legal effect by July.
Mahinda Amaraweera, Fisheries Minister, told The Hindu that the withdrawal of the ban had been done with “no conditions” imposed on Sri Lanka.
However, in the run-up to the EU’s decision, the Sri Lanka government took a number of steps to have the ban lifted. Rules and regulations were introduced in tune with international norms and new regulations framed for high seas fishing. A national plan was prepared to counter illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
Karumenu Vella, EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritimes Affairs and Fisheries, stated that “after a lengthy dialogue process, Sri Lanka has now successfully reformed its fisheries governance system.”