The European Commission on Thursday banned imports of seafoods caught in Cameroonian waters or by vessels flying the Cameroonian flag, calling the country “uncooperative” in the fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.

The Commission has therefore given Cameroon a ‘red card’ and said EU member states will refuse shipments of seafood from the country even if it has catch certificates validated by national authorities.

“Today’s decision is based on the EU’s ‘IUU Regulation’, which ensures that only legally caught fisheries products can access the EU market. The listing of Cameroon is based on the persistence of serious shortcomings that were outlined in a notification adopted in February 2021 which already warned of the possibility to identify Cameroon as a non-cooperating country”, the commission said in a statement published on Thursday.

Cameroon is one of four third countries currently on the Commission’s “red card” list, along with Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Comoros and Cambodia. In recent years, Cameroon has emerged as one of the many countries that offer “flags of convenience”, allowing companies to register, against payment, their vessels in a country that has no connection with them.

Since November 2012, the European Commission Commission entered in formal dialogues with 26 third countries, with which it officially warned them of the need to take effective action to fight IUU fishing.

According to the commission, in most cases, significant progress was observed and therefore it could satisfactorily close the formal dialogue phase and lift the decisions taken. “Only few countries have not shown the necessary commitment and did not take measures to rectify the identified shortcomings.”

The ban issued by the Commission on Thursday comes nearly two years after it urged Cameroonian authorities to step up action against illegal fishing.