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EU declines to speculate outcome on fishing warning to Sri Lanka


19:32, May 09, 2013

COLOMBO, May 9 (Xinhua) -- The European Union said that engagement with Sri Lanka on its warning against Sri Lanka's illegal fishing practices is "substantive" and "continuing," but declined to comment on its eventual outcome, a top official said here on Thursday.

The EU issued warnings to Sri Lanka and several other countries over illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in November 2012.

Head of delegation of the EU to Sri Lanka Bernard Savage told Xinhua in an interview that the issue had garnered significant attention and continued to be a point of engagement between the two stakeholders.

"There was a list of countries and not specifically Sri Lanka and even before that authorities in Brussels were in discussion with authorities here and that continues. And indeed we hope that the remaining issues will be resolved and that any concerns that we have regards unregulated and illegal fishing be resolved. I know that ministry officials are putting in considerable effort and my EU colleagues are doing what they can to maintain discussions with Sri Lanka," he said.

Savage declined to give specifics of what the outcome would be, preferring to say that a decision would be taken within the next few months.

"I do not want to contradict the minister, but what I can say is that the discussions are substantive and continuing and we certainly hope that we can resolve any outstanding issues. The EU is expected to announce its decision within the next few months."

Sri Lanka's government is confident that the EU warning on illegal fishing in the island will be retracted soon paving the way for German and Chinese investors to double fish export income to around half a billion U.S. dollars.

Extensive lobbying has been done since the warning was issued in November 2012 with the EU officials indicating that it will withdraw its "yellow card" in June, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister Rajitha Senaratne told media on Wednesday.

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