The EU and Côte d’Ivoire agreed on a new 5-year protocol to implement the EU–Côte d’Ivoire Fisheries Partnership Agreement. The protocol provides fishing opportunities for EU tuna fleets from Spain and France, based on a reference tonnage of 6,500 tonnes. The annual financial compensation amounting to €680,000 is partly earmarked for supporting Côte d’Ivoire fisheries policy. This sectoral support has been increased to €257,500 ‘to take into account the situation of the fishing administration in Côte d’Ivoire after the civil war and help it to take on its international obligations in terms of port state control’, according to the EC.
An article in ATUNA comments that this deal is very lucrative for the EU: ‘In the end the EU pays roughly US$139 to catch a ton of tuna, which currently has a market value of about US$1,900 in the case of skipjack.’ The article also highlights that the costs, based on the assumption that a purse seiner catches an average of 32 tonnes a day, amount to US$3,350 per day, ‘less than what a fishing day costs in the Pacific waters of the PNA countries, which is [a] minimum US$5,000.’ However, the EU–Côte d’Ivoire FPA evaluation, published at the end of 2012, highlighted that the average annual EU-declared catches during 2007–2010 was 3,500 tonnes – roughly half the reference tonnage, an element not taken into account for this calculation.
The FPA evaluation further highlights that the agreement with Côte d’Ivoire is of particular strategic importance as it allows purse seine fishing to take place while en route to Abidjan, the chief landing port in the region for EU tuna vessels. EU vessels are the main suppliers for the three Abidjan tuna canneries, providing them with around 70% of their raw material. They also account for half of the transshipped quantities, and provide about 11,000 tonnes of fish to the national market. The presence of EU vessels in the port of Abidjan generates significant economic effects: ‘Knowing that the number of jobs related to the tuna industry in Abidjan is in the order of 30,000, we can deduce that about 21,000 people are dependent on the EU fleet.’
As highlighted in the FPA evaluation, a key impact of the EU fleet’s presence on Côte d’Ivoire fisheries development stems from EU vessels landing their catches in the port of Abidjan. Financial support provided through the FPA may also help create favourable conditions so that fish caught in Côte d’Ivoire waters comply with high sustainability and quality standards, thereby facilitating fish (tuna) trade with the EU. It may therefore be misleading to compare FPA benefits for Côte d’Ivoire with those derived by Pacific island countries, based only on the costs of access fees paid. The FPA financial compensation and access fees for Côte d’Ivoire are only part of the overall benefits generated. However, this suggests that a careful analysis of the various benefits and costs linked to the EU fleet’s presence in ACP waters should be undertaken by ACP countries, to ensure that EU vessels pay a fair price for their access, and to ensure other types of benefits are maximised.