Fishing vessels from Mauritania. (Photo: Stock File)
Mauritania and EU sign new fisheries agreement for two years
Friday, July 27, 2012, 23:30 (GMT + 9)
The European Union (EU) and Mauritania reached a new two-year fisheries agreement, which excludes octopus catch.
The bilateral agreement signed yesterday in Nouakchott determines that the EU will pay the West African nation a total of EUR 70 million per year so that 70 EU vessels will be able to fish in the Mauritanian fishing grounds for shrimp, tuna, demersal species and pelagic fish.
The signing event of the protocol was attended by Sheij uld Ahmed, a technical adviser to the Minister of Fisheries in charge of maritime surveillance; and Stefaan Depypere, the director of International Affairs and Market of the Directorate General for Maritime Affairs at the European Commission (EC).
"After a very long negotiation process, we have a deal. This deal is sustainable, ethical and good value for money. We have secured a legal framework which will allow EU fishing activities to continue in Mauritanian waters," Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Commissioner of the EU, Maria Damanaki, expressed in a statement.
But the Spanish Fisheries Confederation (Cepesca) has a different view: it considers that the pact was renewed under "deplorable" conditions and describes it as "very disappointing and economically unviable."
The association said that with regards to technical aspects, European ships will be able to fish 300,000 tonnes annually in total and will have to employ 60 per cent of Mauritanian seamen.
In addition, it stressed that the fees to be paid by shellfish and hake shipowners will be increased by over 300 per cent and fishing zones will be constrained for shellfish vessels not meeting the agreed catch expectations.
"It will be the most expensive deal settled with third countries in spite of not meeting the EU fishing sector’s needs and of having the rejection of the European fishing industry, which is mostly under no conditions of taking advantage of it," Cepesca complained.
According to Cepesca Secretary General, Javier Garat; and representatives of the National Association of Cephalopod Producers (Anacef), of the National Association of Freezer Shipowners for Seafood Fishing (Anamar) and of the Association of Shipowners from Marín, the conditions the new covenant set are not viable for the European fishing industry.
"We can not understand how the most expensive fishing agreement of those the EU has with third countries discriminates fleet segments that have no choice in other waters in this way and sets technical and economic conditions that make their use impractical, although the target species are generally in good status," Garat argued.
To Cepesca, the Council and European Parliament (EP) should reject "this shameful agreement signed by the EC."
By excluding the Galician cephalopod fleet from the Mauritanian fishing zone, about 400 sailors will lose their jobs (direct jobs), as well as about 2,400 indirect jobs will be lost, Anacef warned the newspaper Faro de Vigo.
According to Damanaki, there is "scientific evidence" that advises against fishing for octopus in Mauritania.
"Cephalopods are currently overexploited and fishing opportunities for this stock at this time should be reduced to zero in the new protocol," said the European Commissioner.
But Anacef president, Francisco Freire, rejected those claims.
"We're sick of the lies expressed by Mrs. Damanaki on stock status of the species, because they are lies. First, it is not true what she says; any ship owner or operator can express their views on the July season," which has been very positive for the fleet, he added.
Under the terms of the biennial covenant, at least 20 of the total number of vessels that may no longer continue fishing in the waters of the African country are from O Morrazo and Vigo, although most vessels have their administrative base in Las Palmas.
Furthermore, four Italian ships, three Greek vessels and one Portuguese boat will have to leave the fishing grounds.
- Negotiations with Mauritania keep the Spanish on tenterhooks
By Analia Murias