25th September, 2023:- Trinidad and Tobago was identified by the European Commission as a non-cooperating third country pursuant to provisions of Article 32 of the European Council Regulation (EC) no. 1005/2008 (EC IUU Regulation) establishing a Community system to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing on September 25th, 2023.
The identification was as a result of an evaluation of TTO’s systems and programmes for fisheries management, with focus on combatting Illegal Unreported and Unregulated fishing. The current Fisheries Legislation is more than 100 years old and does not allow Trinidad and Tobago to adequately address its international obligations.
In an attempt to fast track the passage of new modern legislation, a Joint Select Committee of Parliament (JSC) was convened in 2020 to review the bill, completing two rounds of review of all 242 clauses. Due to the substantive changes to the FMB during this process, the amended Bill is now before the Legislative Review Committee of the Cabinet for consideration. Two further meetings of the Legislative Review Committee are scheduled for September 25th, 2023 and September 29th, 2023 to address any final legal considerations before the Bill goes to Cabinet for approval. It is anticipated that Consultations with Stakeholders will follow to advise on how their 700 plus comments were addressed in the Bill after which the Bill will be laid in Parliament.
The Ministry of Agriculture is working towards providing the necessary staffing and resources to implement the Bill once passed.
The EU Commission in its statement has expressed its availability and continued support to Trinidad and Tobago in addressing several areas including: (1) the administrative and legal framework for fisheries management; (2) fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance; (3) cooperation among agencies involved in fisheries management; and (4) cooperation with Third States whose fishing vessels utilize the ports of TTO for the landing and transhipment of fish and fish products. In particular, the establishment and reinforcement of port controls (especially for foreign-flagged fishing vessels) and enhanced monitoring, control and surveillance of all TTO-flagged fishing vessels.
The Ministry of Agriculture Land and Fisheries will continue to collaborate with stakeholders, experts, and international partners to develop and implement comprehensive measures that promote responsible fishing practices, protect marine resources, and ensure the long-term sustainability of our fisheries sector.