The European Commission has lifted on Wednesday 22 February the 'yellow cards' for Curaçao and Solomon Islands, recognising the significant progress both countries have made in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Speaking on the margins of the Economist's World Ocean Summit in Bali, EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, said: “This is a good day for Curaçao and Solomon Islands, and good news for sustainable fisheries around the globe. Countries worldwide have a shared duty to fight illegal fishing, protect law-abiding fishermen, and keep our oceans healthy. I encourage others to join the European Union in this fight and contribute to better ocean governance."
This report provides an ex ante evaluation of a possible Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement (SFPA) and Protocol1 between the European Union (EU) and Republic of Ghana. The EU distant-water fishing fleets have been targeting tropical tunas in the Gulf of Guinea since the 1950s, today catching about 10 % of their global tuna catch in the Atlantic Ocean. Although the EU has never concluded a fisheries agreement with Ghana, the EU fleet have been fishing in Ghana’s waters under private licences since 2007.
The EU fisheries agreement with the Cook Islands and its implementation protocol, signed in October 2016, allow EU vessels to fish in this country’s waters for the first time. Parliament’s consent, requested for their conclusion, will be subject to a plenary vote planned for the February II session. Background To date, the EU has concluded tuna fisheries agreements with three countries in the western-central Pacific: Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Micronesia (see map). However, none of these agreements currently have a protocol in force, and thus the EU fishing fleet cannot operate in these countries’ Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ; for an overview of EU fishing activities in the western-central Pacific, see July 2016 EPRS briefing 'Expanding the network of EU tuna agreements').
WTO members gave their initial review on 24 January to a new paper from the Group of Least Developed Countries (LDC Group) regarding principles and elements for new multilateral disciplines on fisheries subsidies and further reviewed another three proposals from the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group, the European Union, and six Latin American countries. All four initiatives seek to achieve the 2020 targets set out in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).SGD Goal 14.6 calls for prohibiting certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminating subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and refraining from introducing new such subsidies, by 2020.
The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the Government of Norway have launched a two-week mission to explore the development of a regional technical assistance project to be funded by Norway. The project would support the region’s fisheries and aquaculture sector by strengthening evidence-based management. Dr. Åge Høines, Senior Scientist, Institute of Marine Research, Norway; and Dr. Johán Williams, Specialist Director, Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, began meeting on Monday, January 16, with CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton at the CRFM Secretariat in Belize City, after which the team embarked in a two-week dialogue with 7 CRFM Members States, beginning with senior government officials in Belize. This regional fact-finding mission is being undertaken within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Cooperation between the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Governments of the Nordic Countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, signed by the parties on 20 September 2016 in New York, USA.
There is still a long way to go but experts meeting here last Thursday expressed optimism that slow but steady progress was being made toward introducing region-wide laws, rules and regulations intended to make Caribbean fish and seafood not only ready for world trade but safe for Caribbean tables. The experts, drawn from fisheries, legal affairs, food health and safety and standards agencies across ten countries in the Caribbean Forum of ACP States (CARIFORUM), ended two days of deliberations on model legislation, protocols and guidelines for health and food safety related to fisheries and aquaculture.
The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources and the European Union have had a consultative meeting with PRECON Food Management on how far has the consultancy agreement to secure the European Union Export Market Certification for Sierra Leone’s Fisheries and Marine exports to EU markets have gone. PRECON Food Management is a Netherlands-based Consultancy Firm. Giving an overview on the said agreement, the Senior Director of the Strategy and Policy Unit in the Office of the President, Professor Victor Strasser King said the meeting was also geared towards the urgent need to accomplishing the certification exercise and to engender broadened technical support and to also collaborate with development partners in the fishing sector. He said the Ministry contracted PRECON to ensure they obtained transparency in the country’s fishing industry.
Despite concerns over acceptance of African agricultural produce in the European Union (EU), a study on Tuesday revealed that the adoption of food safety regulations will promote inter-regional trade of agriculture commodities to the EU. The study, titled “Food Safety Regulations and Export Responses of Developing Nations: Lessons from South Africa and Namibia’s Fresh and Frozen Fish Exports to the EU”, was presented by Shingirirai Mashura, a Certified Economist from the University of Zimbabwe.
Pacific islands rejected a proposal made by Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) at the annual meeting in Fiji, which would have given distant water fishing fleets an unfair competitive advantage in negotiating fishing access agreements. The proposal was submitted by the European Union (EU) as a “conservation and management measure on fisheries access agreements information” to increase transparency of fisheries access agreements. It would have required the filing with the WCPFC of detailed access agreement information by all Commission members that allow foreign-flagged fishing fleets to fish in their waters for species managed by the Commission.
For the Council to authorise the European Commission to make a deal on behalf of the EU for a new agreement with Guinea-Bissau, before the expiry of the current protocol, which has been in force since 2014, an independent ex-post assessment (covering the first two years of application of the agreement) and ex-ante assessment has been carried out. According to the final report, outlining the results of this assessment, the protocol in force since 2015 has allowed for catches of 16,042 tonnes of demersal fish and 2,194 tonnes of tuna, 1,407 tonnes of which from the joint management zone (64 per cent of catches of tuna vessels). The contribution of this protocol to the EU market for tuna has been 1 per cent. Meanwhile, in terms of work, the Protocol has helped to create an estimated 497 direct and 240 indirect jobs over the period, divided between the EU and ACP countries.