Philippines President, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., was told by the Alliance of Philippine Fishing Federations, Inc. (APFFI) to brush off “baseless” reports that the European Commission (EC) is set to issue a “Red Card” against the Philippines for illegal fishing.

The alliance, which is composed of several commercial fishing associations, addressed Marcos in a letter dated June 5 that “there should be no basis for the recent pronouncement that there is a danger of EC issuing a ‘Red Card’ to the Philippines.” EC refers to the European Commission, the European Union’s (EU) governing body.

According to the group, without factual and legal basis, “it would be against the fundamental principles of substantive and procedural due process” if the EC will immediately issue a Red Card while the Philippines is in “Green Card” status.

The APFFI pointed out that “as the stakeholders representing the private sector, we were called to a meeting by various government offices and agencies in order to discuss the EC’s ‘Red Card’ notice.”

However, the Philippines, as reflected in the website of the EU IUU (Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated) Fishing Coalition, is still in a Green Card status, which means that it is cooperative in the international fight against IUU.

According to the alliance in a statement on June 7, “there is no reason why the country should not keep its ‘Green Card’ status from the EC given its relentless efforts to fight against IUU.”

Based on the EC’s website, the EU is the world’s largest import market for fisheries products and bears responsibility as market state to ensure that products stemming from IUU fishing activities do not access the EU single market.

To achieve this, the EC requires flag states, such as the Philippines, to certify the origin and legality of fish shipments, to ensure the full traceability of all marine fishery products traded from and into the EU.

The EC said cooperation is most needed to solve problems on IUU, but there are third countries where the situation is still problematic even after years of informal cooperation.