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Cepesca secretary general Javier Garat and the port of Vigo. (Photo: FIS Stock)

Shipowners ask agreement with Mauritania technical-economic conditions to change

Click on the flag for more information about Spain SPAIN
Tuesday, January 22, 2013, 23:40 (GMT + 9)

The secretary general of the Spanish Fisheries Confederation (Cepesca) and president of the Association of National Organisations of Fishing Enterprises in the European Union (Europêche), Javier Garat, reiterated the need to find a solution that would allow the EU fishing fleet leverage the fisheries agreement recently signed between the European Union (EU) and Mauritania.

Garat said before the members of the Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament (EP) "the protocol, under present conditions, is technically and economically not feasible for most categories."

"Therefore, it is a very expensive deal, having to pay Mauritania EUR 70 million for fishing opportunities that won’t be used," added the leader during his presentation at a hearing organized by the Fisheries Committee of the EP, where the new bilateral fisheries protocol was analyzed.

To Cepesca, the agreement is being underused: only a few boats requested and used the fishing licenses, and no shellfish and almost no pelagic vessel requested the licenses.

Garat reminded that cephalopod fishing has no opportunities in the Mauritanian fishing ground and only the tuna seiners, pole and line, and groundfish vessels requested and used the licenses.

About 20 cephalopod and 15 shellfish Spanish boats were left without fishing in Mauritanian waters and more than 400 crew members lost their jobs.

For the shellfish fleet, "the current conditions of the Euro-Mauritanian agreement mean an economic cost for loss of income or increased costs in relation to the previous protocol, which amounts to an average per vessel of more than EUR 400,000 a year," said Cepesca in a press release.

While Mauritania forbids fishing for octopus alleging that the resource is overexploited, an investigation by the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO) found no evidence of over exploitation and verified the conservation, in terms of biomass, is at a level of "maximum sustainable yield ".

Meanwhile, for fresh fish trawlers and bottom longliners targeting toothfish, the protocol has three problems:

  • A fee increase;
  • The setting of a total allowable catch (TAC) of 4,000 tonnes, which is completely inadequate for vessels, without having scientific grounds to support it;
  • The reduction of fishing zone six miles over the previous deal.

Job loss in African fishery causes huge losses, for example, in the Canary Islands 3,000 jobs are already lost and more than EUR 100 million in terms of direct billing.

Since the signing of the bilateral agreement has taken effect, 1,200 workers were dismissed and some 20 companies closed, according Cepesca.

To Garat, it is urgently needed a meeting between the Euro-Mauritanian Joint Scientific Committee and the Joint Commission to solve these problems.

"In case technical conditions allowing a proper use of the protocol couldn’t be improved, Garat advocates that the European Commission should apply Article 5 of the agreement" and terminate the agreement for the evident under-utilization of fishing opportunities and renegotiate a new deal, Cepesca added.

Related article:

- Galicia defends return of cephalopod vessels to Mauritanian waters

By Analia Murias
[email protected]
www.fis.com

 


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