EU-Mauritania deal “worthless”

31 Jul 2012
Gerard van Balsfoort, president of the Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association says that the deal does not make any sense

Gerard van Balsfoort, president of the Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association says that the deal does not make any sense

The European Commission has initialled a two-year Fisheries Partnership Protocol (FPA) between the EU and Mauritania which it has described as sustainable - however, the pelagic freezer trawler owners say it's worthless.

The total cost for the EU budget on an annual basis amounts to €70m and offers fishing opportunities for demersal, including shrimps, tuna and pelagic fisheries. Furthermore, the EC says there will be a very substantial increase of shipowners' fees, in line with the principles of the CFP Reform.

The EC says that this new protocol ensures sustainability and the catching of the available surplus in all these fisheries, and is fully based on best scientific advice. A human rights clause has been included, as well as the de-coupling of the sectoral support from access fees. The new protocol also provides for increased job opportunities for Mauritanian seamen, and there will be a special contribution in kind by the EU fishing fleet to meet nutritional needs of the local population.

Commissioner Maria Damanaki has described the deal as "sustainable, ethical and good value for money.”

Condemned
However, all EU pelagic freezer trawler owners have strongly condemned the value and rationale of the agreement and have called it a “worthless deal, with African consumers and EU taxpayers as biggest losers.”

“The deal the Commission has just signed does not make any sense. There will be no winners, only losers,” said Gerard van Balsfoort on behalf of all pelagic freezer trawler owners.

“The EU pelagic fleet does not get any commercially viable fishing opportunities and fisheries in the region will not become any more sustainable. As a consequence, African consumers will have less access to affordable fish as valuable protein, African and European seamen will lose their jobs and EU taxpayers will not get any value for nearly €70m a year. On top of that, pelagic fleet owners are being asked to pay a further €37m.

“The new protocol is imposing unrealistic conditions for pelagic fisheries, making the agreement worthless. It will lead to zero use of the pelagic part of the agreement. In essence, the Commission intends to pay Mauritania millions for an empty shell,” he continued.

He said that deal hinders food security, employment and environmental sustainability in the region, and has described it as an aid package for Mauritania, masquerading as a fisheries deal.

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