At its May plenary session, the European Parliament approved, with a big majority, the new FPA with Mozambique, which provides fishing opportunities to 75 EU vessels from Spain, France, Portugal, Italy and the UK. The Parliament, however, reiterated its call to be more extensively involved in the negotiations, and in the monitoring and implementation of the agreement.
In the new agreement, the reference tonnage has decreased, from 10,000 to 8,000 tonnes per year. This is a consequence of the fact that EU catches in Mozambique's waters in recent years have been below the reference tonnage. However, this reference tonnage can be raised if necessary. Accordingly, the number of tuna vessels allowed in Mozambican waters will decrease from 89 to 75 (43 tuna-seiners and 32 surface long-liners).
EU funds made available to Mozambique will amount to €980,000 per year. Monies for access and for sectoral support are clearly decoupled: €520,000 will pay for access to Mozambican waters whilst €460,000 will be used to develop the country’s fisheries policy. From 1 July 2012, an electronic logbook system will be introduced for transmitting catch data and the Mozambican fisheries research institute will be involved in the validation of the data. The agreement requires EU vessels to employ at least two Mozambican crew members per purse-seiner and one per long-liner. If vessels fail to implement this provision, they will have to pay a fine of €30 per day.
As the European Parliament at present only has to give its consent to EC proposals for FPA and FPA protocols, it intervenes at a relatively late stage in the decision-making process, hence its demand to be more involved in the negotiations and implementation of FPAs. Its support for the renewal of the Mozambique FPA protocol is welcome inasmuch as many elements of the protocol will improve the sustainability of exploitation. In particular the electronic logbook system will be introduced for transmitting catch data, and this should provide a solution to the long-standing issue of under-declarations by EU vessels. One issue that may need further consideration is the employment of local seamen on board EU tuna vessels. The fact that vessel owners can escape such obligation by paying a small amount of money shows that the interest of vessel owners for such provision may be relatively limited. Better training of local seamen, with financial EU support if needed, may provide important incentives for EU vessels to embark local crews.