The European Parliament Fisheries Committee approved the new EU–Mauritius FPA and its protocol, which is the first after the previous deal was stopped in 2007. The recommendation will be voted on by the European Parliament plenary in April.
‘The new Fishery Partnership Agreement and the new Protocol will help strengthen the capacity of Mauritius for combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, in particular by improving its infrastructure for monitoring and controlling fishing activities in its exclusive economic zone,’ said the rapporteur, Mr Sanchez Presedo.
The draft recommendation adopted by the Fisheries Committee calls on the EC to facilitate the participation of MEPs as observers in the Joint Committee meetings, and to provide them, ‘within the last year of application of the new Protocol and before the opening of negotiations for its renewal, a full evaluation report on its implementation, without unnecessary restrictions on access to this document’.
The rapporteur insists that ‘With this new protocol, EU vessels will be allowed to fish only beyond 15 nautical miles from the coast in order to avoid adverse effects to small-scale artisanal fisheries in Mauritius.’
Although public interest regarding an FPA rises at the time of the negotiation, the FPA implementation process, particularly through the Joint Committee meetings, is drawing increasing attention from various stakeholders, including European parliamentarians who are calling on the EC to facilitate their participation as observers to these meetings. In the case of Mauritius, the negotiation process that led to the proposed agreement and protocol was criticised by some Mauritian stakeholders – fisher associations, local NGOs – for not having been sufficiently inclusive. To address this issue, it may be pertinent for both parties to look at the appropriate ways these committees could be opened up to stakeholder’s participation.