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30/09/2016

New fishing deals with Mauritania and Liberia approved

Agriculture & Food

New fishing deals with Mauritania and Liberia approved

West African communities are set to benefit from the new deals as well.

[Tobias Mandt/Flickr]

The European Parliament has approved new fisheries agreements with Mauritania and Liberia. Spain is set to be a big beneficiary of the plans. EurActiv Spain reports.

The agreement with Mauritania, which was passed by 585 votes in favour, 41 against, with 41 abstentions, replaces the 2012-2014 agreement.

During the debate, which was concluded on Monday (9 May), the proposal’s rapporteur Gabriel Mato (EPP) insisted that the agreement is “much better than the last” for both parties and that it solves a number of issues that affected the previous one.

He also stressed that the agreement’s economic conditions “improve the cost-benefit relationship”, adding that the deal’s “good balance” will be revised in late May.

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The Mauritania deal, which actually came into force provisionally in July 2015, allows the EU’s fleets to fish shrimp, demersal species (bottom feeders) and tuna, among others.

The pact, which pays out €55 million annually to Mauritania, as well as an additional €4.1 million to help the country’s fishery development, will last for four years.

When the Parliament met back in April, it used Mauritania as an example of an agreement in which transparency and effective implementation are strong factors.

The Parliament also decided to green-light a deal with Liberia, the first of its kind with the West African nation; lasting five years, the pact will mostly benefit French and Spanish vessels.

The agreement, which passed with 584 for and 35 against, will allow EU vessels to fish in Liberia’s waters in exchange for €715,000 in the first year, €650,000 in the second, third and fourth years and €585,000 in the final year.

It was signed back in June 2015, and like the Mauritania deal, has been provisionally in force ever since.

At the session on Monday, the Commission’s fisheries chief, Karmenu Vella, said that despite not being one of the most important fishery agreements in the EU’s portfolios, the pact “is significant because it extends into a part of West Africa that has not yet been fished yet”. Twenty-eight tuna boats and six other vessels are set to benefit.

“It’s also about promoting sustainable fishing based on recent scientific data,” the Maltese Commissioner added.

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The deal is especially important for Liberia, where more than half of the population lives in coastal areas and depends on fish. Fish and other maritime products make up about 65% of the animal protein consumed in the country.

Other MEPs, like Izaskun Bilbao (ALDE) and Clara Aguilera (S&D group), also supported the agreement because of its potential to develop local communities and the distinct possibility that squid fishing would be allowed in the future.

From a Spanish perspective, the pact will allow up to 4,150 tonnes of crustaceans a year (excluding lobsters and crabs), 6,000 tonnes of black hake and 3,000 tonnes of other demersal species.

Spain will be granted a maximum of 31 licences a year for different kinds of boats.