GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador – Ecuador has put together an inter-institutional front to protect tuna exports to the European Union, which has warned the South American country that it must crack down on illegal fishing practices or face sanctions on imports into the EU.
Ecuador’s vice presidency, the Ministries of Production, Trade, Investment and Fisheries, Defense, Finance and Foreign Affairs and the National Directorate of Aquatic Spaces (Dirnea), among other State entities, have joined forces to implement a Plan of Action to address the European Commission’s decision to issue a yellow card trade warning, government sources in the port city of Guayaquil said.
The public effort along with that of the private sector to build joint strategies make it possible to improve the general conditions of the fishing sector and protect Ecuador’s long-term tuna exports, the Trade Ministry said in a statement.
It said the first official address to EU concerns centers on getting fully behind the decision to approve the new Fisheries and Aquaculture Law to regulate Ecuador’s fishing activity.
Representatives of the public and private effort to protect the industry have stressed to the National Assembly the importance of the new Organic Law Project that seeks to mitigate, eliminate and discourage Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
Moreover, Ecuadorian authorities are to travel to the EU In the first quarter of 2020 to address the issue in a bid to reverse the “wake-up call” and avoid any harm to the nation’s tuna exports.
Ecuador is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of tuna. The enterprise represents more than $1.15 billion in foreign exchange for the Ecuadorian economy.
Fishing as a whole represents 13 percent of the total non-oil exports of the country, with sales abroad of more than 1.6 billion dollars.
It generates 1.5 percent of GDP and more than 108,000 direct quality jobs in Ecuador, which has its first product sales market in Europe.
“Having a commercial agreement with Europe means you can in no way run the risk of interrupting the commercial flow because Ecuador is supposedly not fulfilling its duty in the fight against illegal fishing,” Bruno Leone, president of the National Chamber of Fisheries, told a press conference.
Likewise, Juan Manuel Vieites, national secretary of the national association of canned fish in Spain, said the situation was “not pleasant” and called on public-private cooperation to be “as efficient as possible.”
Ecuador’s Production, Foreign Trade, Investment and Fisheries Minister Ivan Ontaneda stressed that there was already “a clear road map, reinforced in an articulated way with the private sector to get out of this wake-up call” from the EU.
“We are committing economic, technical resources that allow us to guarantee our buyers that illegal fishing is not carried out in Ecuador,” he said.
He said the strategic plan to evade the yellow card would be formally presented to the EU possibly next week.