EU and Mauritius missed opportunity to strengthen fishing governance

23 May 2017
Mauritius sustainable fishing

The Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement sets the legal conditions to allow EU tuna fishing vessels to fish in Mauritius waters. Image courtesy of Europêche - Facebook

The EU and the Republic of Mauritius missed an opportunity to strengthen sustainable fisheries and ocean governance in the Indian Ocean when they signed a protocol to implement the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement last month, says Europêche.

The EU body said that while it and the EU fishing sector broadly welcomes the protocol, these issues could have been assessed alongside regional management policies and negotiations to pave the way for a better exchange of best practices and the development of regional policies to tackle IUU fishing and governance in the Indian Ocean with the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), which governs these waters.

Javier Garat, president of Europêche, declared: “We have requested in numerous occasions the need to work towards an alliance with IOTC countries, notably Seychelles, Mauritius and Madagascar. We were disappointed to observe that during the negotiations with Mauritius, no questions were raised regarding IOTC negotiations. Regional management should be fundamentally linked to fisheries agreements’ talks, and we believe that in the case of Mauritius, it is particularly important to achieve a closer cooperation and understanding.”

Mr Garat added: “Otherwise, the proposal tabled by Mauritius for the next IOTC session, extremely limiting the number of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) and supply vessels, should have never been presented. These measures are not founded on any scientific recommendation of the IOTC Scientific Committee, and has no basis to further tighten management measures that we already found hard to accept last year, with no time to evaluate its effects on the yellowfin stock. This will certainly hamper the fishing activities of the EU vessels operating in the area and therefore will bring the positions of both parties into conflict for the upcoming IOTC negotiations.”

The Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement sets the legal conditions to allow EU tuna fishing vessels to fish in Mauritius waters for the next four years. Europêche says the tuna organisations that it represents, namely OPAGAC, ANABAC and ORTHONGEL, welcomes the agreement because of its importance in strengthening the tuna network fisheries agreements in the Indian Ocean and consolidating strategic access to fish resources.

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