Fishing vessels in Mauritanian waters. (Photo: Stock File)
Obstacles to renew fisheries agreement with Mauritania loom
Thursday, July 17, 2014, 23:50 (GMT + 9)
The renewal of the fisheries agreement between the European Union (EU) and Mauritania are seen as very complicated, according to official sources and the fisheries sector itself.
While the date for renewal has been set before 31 July, 2014, there are still discrepancies between the two parties.
On the one hand, the Mauritanian Government considers that the current two-year agreement became effective on 31 July, 2012, as soon as was just signed. Meanwhile, the European Commission (EC) argues that the date that counts is on 8 October, when it was ratified by the European Parliament (EP), EFE agency reports.
The bilateral agreement, which is still in force, allows 65 European vessels -- almost all Spanish – to operate in Mauritanian waters in exchange for a financial contribution of EUR 67 million annually.
The Spanish fishing sector considers the agreement signed with Mauritania is one of the most disadvantageous ones.
For the Mauritanian authorities, however, this is the best fishing agreement signed by the country, as it was possible to exclude the cephalopod sector and force fishermen to unload their catch in the ports of Mauritania.
The Mauritanian private operator Abdat uld Chighali explains that "the rules have clearly changed" since 2012. Now negotiators "have a purely technical and commercial mission", which entails the exclusion of large changes in the outline of the bilateral pact.
Meanwhile, Cheij uld Ahmed uld Baya, Mauritanian chief negotiator, told the newspaper La Tribune that financial compensation, "which is a right of access, paid by the Commission," must not be confused with the price of fish, "paid by each owner per capture ton."
This clarification was referring to the latest EU offer, to reduce the financial compensation in exchange for reducing the catch quota from 300,000 to 200,000 tonnes of pelagic fish.
The possibility for the EU to choose to offset the decline in financial support with another grant was discarded by uld Baya. "It would be the same mistake made in the previous protocols: good conditions on paper but ultimately it turns out impossible to collect such amounts," he said.
"If the EU actually provides financial compensation, it would be much easier to directly help the owners to pay the fair price for access requested by Mauritania," suggested the Mauritanian negotiator.
- With some discrepancies negotiations between EU and Mauritania continue
By Analia Murias