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EU-Mauritania Fisheries Agreement: Controversies, amendment of fishing opportunities

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Wednesday, 17 July 2013

EU-Mauritania Fisheries Agreement: Controversies, amendment of fishing opportunities

Among controversies on the economical viability of the Fisheries Partnership Agreement (FPA) between the EU and the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, the last Council meeting on Agriculture and Fisheries held in Brussels on 15 July 2013 amended the allocation of the fishing opportunities provided for the FPA.
In practice, the Council adopted the review of fishing opportunities, as approved by a Joint Committee between the European Union and Mauritania in February 2013; it provides for the following changes:
For Category 5 - Tuna seiners: Spain - 17 licences - , France - 8 licences.
For Category 6 - Pole-and-line tuna vessels and surface longliners: Spain - 18 licences -, France 1 licence.

The FPA between the EU and Mauritania was concluded in 2006, and a new protocol was initialled in July 2012. The protocol to this FPA defines the fishing opportunities offered to EU vessels as well as the financial contribution due. It provides for a financial contribution of €110 million a year, of which €70 million would come from the EU directly and the rest would be raised by the industry through license fees. This makes the current EU-Mauritania FPA EU's most important fisheries agreement, both in terms of volume and financial contribution (€70 million per year), the European Parliament Library writes.

The protocol gives access to vessels from 12 EU member states, for eight catch categories including pelagic species, demersal species and hake, shellfish (shrimps and prawns, Norway lobster, lobster and crab) and tuna. There is also a cephalopod category, for which the fishing opportunities are zero.

Controversy: FPA, unviable?

On 29 May, the Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament voted to reject the new European Union-Mauritania protocol to the fishing agreement. The grounds for rejection were that the new clauses regarding licensing for European fleets to fish in Mauritanian waters would be neither profitable nor to the benefit of either party, Jadaliyya informs.

Measures banning any further exploitation of octopus in Mauritanian waters by European freezer trawlers––a large number of which are Spanish––have especially caused controversy. Oponents have levied accusations that the protocol discriminates against European fleets, as other foreign vessels have allegedly retained access to octopus by fishing under a Mauritanian flag.
The new conditions of the agreement would be so unfavorable, that, as a result, according to Gabriel Mato - the president of the European fisheries committee to the European parliament -, no European vessel has yet applied for provisional licenses under the protocol — except for tuna fishing vessels (for which the technical conditions have not changed), and a few hake trawlers (which will only operate for brief spells).

explains that the waters off the coast of Mauritania are some of the richest and most biologically diverse in the world. As a result, they would be of great importance to European fishing fleets - which have increasingly been forced to fish beyond their own shores due to a depletion of fish in Europe.

A vote on the conclusion of the protocol will be casted in the European Parliament in October this year (2013).

Source: Council of the EU, undercurrentnews.com, libraryeuroparl.wordpress.com, jadaliyya.com