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Spanish fleet. (Photo: Stock File)

EU and Mauritania negotiate fisheries agreement in Brussels

EUROPEAN UNION
Wednesday, September 20, 2017, 20:00 (GMT + 9)

Europeans and Mauritanians have today begun a joint commission in Brussels to evaluate the agreement. It is the most important bilateral fisheries agreement for the European Union (EU) from the economic point of view. The Spanish fleet calls for improvements in access to the waters of the North African country.

Representatives from the EU and Mauritania will meet until Friday to discuss the fisheries agreement, which proves interesting to the Spanish fleet.

The agreement with the African country is the main EU protocol from the economic point of view. It offers licenses for about 56 Spanish ships and concerns the fleet of Andalusia, Galicia and the Canary Islands.

In return, the EU pays EUR 57.5 million per year to Mauritania.

Requests from the fleet

Representatives of the Spanish shipowners (grouped in Cepesca) and community members (Europêche) have presented petitions to Brussels for tomorrow's meeting in order to improve their activity in the Mauritanian fishing ground.

On the one hand, the vessels of Ribeira (A Coruña) have demanded a reduction in the payment paid by shipowners for operating in the waters of that country, changes in licenses, the possibility of landing fish oils - now not allowed - and related modifications during the time when ships can operate there.

The fleets of freezer trawlers in Huelva and the Canary Islands have also claimed improvements.

Canarian shipowners

This fleet has argued that the control of accidental crab catches (10 per cent) is carried out at the end of each journey and not at the time of inspection, as it is now. The shellfish fishing fleet from Huelva, which operates in Mauritanian waters with six vessels, has called for the need to ensure that, in its mode, "biological stoppages are treated in the same way as other categories of catches such as the Patagonian toothfish or promfet, subject to scientific advice".

At present, "the stoppages can be adopted arbitrarily by Mauritania with little room for maneuver to address solutions, such as applying for licenses for other types of catches," according to Cepesca.

The Huelva fleet also continues to claim access to areas such as the one called Playa del Norte, which is rich in prawn, since in its view there is no reason to restrict it.

With respect to port management, it has demanded more speed in the docking and departure from the port of Nuadibú of the container ships.

For their part, the Canary Islands shipowners - grouped in the "OP Anacef" and having six licenses to operate in Mauritania, recently obtained - consider the current limitation of fishing areas as "a problem", since "they cancel certain catch possibilities, namely squid and cuttlefish.

This segment of the fleet, known as cephalopod one, was excluded from the agreement until last November 2016, when a new fishing category was created for 6 vessels for Patagonian toothfish, with possibilities for squid and cuttlefish.

However, the compositions of the catches already carried out "show that those of squid and cuttlefish, the two target species, have been zero", according to these shipowners, who have also presented claims on the canons.

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