The European Union and Mauritania last week initialled a new fisheries partnership agreement to replace the current fisheries agreement due to end on July 31, 2006. According to the European Commission statement, “It is the most important fisheries agreement concluded by the EU with a third country both in financial terms and as regards fishing opportunities for EU vessels. The new agreement will be in place for six years.” Commissioner Joe Borg said in a statement: “This agreement, the biggest with an African country, is a major breakthrough. The new partnership approach will be of mutual benefit to the EU and Mauritania in terms of jobs, strengthened monitoring and control, conservation of resources in compliance with scientific assessment and environmental protection.”
The Commission signing on behalf of the European Union said, “A protocol, for a period of two years, renewable twice, will provide fishing possibilities for about 200 EU vessels on crustaceans (mainly shrimps), hake and other demersal species (living near the sea floor), cepaholopods, small pelagics (living mid-water) and tuna.”
The EU financial contribution will amount to 86 million Euro per year, as in the current agreement. The level of licence fees to be paid by ship owners operating under the agreement will be gradually increased amounting approximately to 22 million Euro per year. The commission also reiterated that a big part of the EU financial contribution will be devoted to supporting the implementation of a responsible and sustainable fisheries policy by Mauritania in its waters and added that this is in line with the approach on EU fisheries partnership agreements adopted under the 2002 reform of the Common Fisheries Policy which focuses on close co-operation with the partner countries to achieve sustainable fisheries in their waters. The new agreement and protocol will be applicable from August 1, 2006, pending final adoption by the EU institutions.
The agreement provides for enhanced scientific co-operation between the two parties to monitor the state of fisheries resources in Mauritanian waters. A joint scientific committee will be established for that purpose, announced the commission.
Vessels from Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and the UK are likely to operate under this agreement.