European Commission nods to lift Sri Lanka’s fish export ban to EU

Fishing boat

The European Union’s executive is to recommend that the bloc lifts a 15-month ban on fish exports from Sri Lanka after the island nation changed its laws to fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, it said on Thursday.

The ban has weighed heavily on exports from Sri Lanka which used to be the second largest exporter of fresh and chilled swordfish and tuna to the EU with exports worth 74 million euros in 2013.

“Sri Lanka has now a robust legal and policy framework to fight illegal fishing activities,” EU Fisheries Commissioner Karmenu Vella said in a statement issued by the EU representation in Colombo.

The decision will be discussed by EU ministers at the next available opportunity and if agreed, the ban will be lifted with immediate effect, the statement said.

The ban came into effect in February 2015 and Sri Lanka’s sea food exports plummeted 35.5 percent to $163.3 million that year compared to 2014.

Sri Lanka was warned in 2012 by the EU over its failure to implement control measures in fishing adequately and comply with international and regional fisheries rules.

The EU is Sri Lanka’s largest importer of goods accounting for around a third of its total exports.