For the European Commission the existence of vessels IUU (illegal, unregulated and unreported) flying the Panamanian flag following its inclusion in the IUU lists prepared by Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) is a clear indication of Panama breaching its obligations as a flag State under international law.
These accusations stem from a report to the Commission in Brussels by the Fisheries Committee in Control Panel.
According to the report, the failure of Panama in its compliance obligations was confirmed following information gathered by the mission in June 2010.
“This mission revealed that the competent authorities of Panama did not enjoy the administrative capacity to undertake research to gather evidence on individuals or companies, collect fines and did not seem to be effective in cases where operators or beneficial owners were not domiciled in Panama, but operating as offshore companies. The application of sanctions was not properly ensured by Panama for lack of adequate cooperation mechanisms with the third countries concerned.”
Another of the questions raised in the report is that the Commission has considered whether Panama has taken effective enforcement measures in respect to operators engaged in IUU activities, determining that according to the evidence gathered Panama “has not fulfilled its obligations under international legislation regarding effective enforcement measures necessary”.
It also mentions that the Panama Shipping Registry does not guarantee that vessels flying the national flag have a genuine link with the country. “The lack of such a genuine link between the State and the vessels in its registry violates the conditions relating to the nationality of the vessels in Article 91 of the CDM”.
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