The EU and Madagascar initialled a 4-year protocol to the SFPA with Madagascar. The EU financial compensation for this agreement is about €6 million over the period; fishing opportunities will be provided to 40 purse seiners and 54 longliners to target tuna and associated species (including sharks). A bigger proportion of the costs of access will be paid by the ship owners: the European Commission informs that “the conditions laid down will help double the share paid by ship owners.” There will be an overall increase of the price paid per tonne, and the share of the contribution earmarked for sectoral support has also increased to €700,000 a year, compared to €550,000 a year in the previous protocol.
The ex ante, ex post evaluation highlighted a series of recommendations, including on the validation mechanism for tuna catches, which required “improvements in the delimitation of the Malagasy fishing zone and in the transmission of detailed and aggregated data”.
To address this issue, the new protocol spells out a number of technical improvements related to monitoring and declaring catches:
- quarterly statements of catches and fishing effort;
- establishment of conditions for daily electronic transmission of catch data;
- use of observers; and
- a clear definition of the Malagasy fishing zone limits.
The definition of areas accessible to the EU fleet in Malagasy waters also allows the interests of small-scale fishing activities to be preserved.
Protective measures relating to sharks prohibit fishing for the most vulnerable species and introduce management measures for the authorised ones, with maximum authorised catches of 250 tonnes per year.
The EC emphasised that the initialled protocol is fully in line with the recently adopted Madagascar national strategy for tuna fisheries with the support of the EU-funded regional programme Smartfish.
Compared with the current situation, these financial benefits will be increased by 20%.
Keywords: EU, Madagascar, SFPA
Past uncertainties about the delimitation of some areas of some ACP countries’ exclusive economic zones (EEZs) have led to various incidents, whereby it has been difficult for the coastal country to assert whether a vessel has been fishing outside or inside an EEZ – in which case the vessel needs an appropriate licence to do so. The existence of these ‘grey areas’ makes it more difficult for countries to police their waters appropriately. Clarifying the situation through the SFPA process is a welcome step, not only for the EU–Malagasy relationship, but for all fishing operations taking place within Madagascar’s EEZ. Other measures to improve catch declarations, such as the establishment of daily electronic transmission of catch data, are positive steps that it would be most welcome replicating.