Europêche slams EU/Mauritania agreement

05 Sep 2012

A delegation of ship owners represented by Europêche has expressed the deep concerns of the fishing industry on the contents of the fishing agreement initialled in July by the EU and the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.

The delegation was led by Europêche president, Javier Garat, who stated: “The agreement does not make sense. Agreeing on fishing opportunities for the European fleet while at the same time accepting unrealistic technical and economic conditions that will inhibit the actual use of these fishing opportunities leads to a waste of money. Furthermore, one fleet segment has been eliminated from the agreement, ignoring the most recent scientist reports. Although the situation European fishermen are now facing is very difficult, the only conclusion to be drawn is that it is better to have no agreement than this one”.

The organisation says that its first reactions on the contents of the agreement highlighted the fact that it excludes most sectors from using the fishing possibilities because of the agreed technical and economic conditions, which means that European and African fishermen will lose their jobs, and African and European consumers will be faced with less supply of marine proteins to their markets, which goes against the need for food security in these regions.

The delegation believes that in reality, the Commission intends to pay Mauritania €70m a year for an empty shell.
“We cannot understand how the most expensive fishing agreement between the EU and a third country goes directly against the interests of an EU fleet that has historically been active in the area”, said Mr Garat.

Ship owner’s representatives completely disagreed with the statement by Commissioner Damanaki that “this deal is sustainable, ethical and good value for money”.

In order to achieve these goals mentioned by the Commissioner, they believe the new protocol should be:

  • Sustainable  - by making it conditional to Mauritania’s ambition to develop an effective and responsible fisheries management in its waters, involving reliable scientific research and catch data provided by the sector, as has been done in the past
  • Ethical - by protecting the jobs of both African and European fishermen, as well as African and European consumers
  • Good value for money - by agreeing on technical and economic conditions that would lead to a good use of the agreement by the EU industry

Europêche and its members believe that none of these conditions are currently met by the new agreement and have repeatedly informed the Commission about their discontent. However, the Commission has initialled the agreement and the industry is now urging the Council of the EU and the European Parliament not to ratify the agreement in order to avoid its entry into force, and to give a strong signal to the Commission and Mauritania that the EU fishing sector wants to go back fishing in the area, but cannot do so if the conditions are not technically, socially and economically acceptable, making it sustainable.

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