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EU and Senegal extend fisheries partnership

15 June 2014

The European Union and the Republic of Senegal have agreed on a new fisheries partnership agreement proposal. The proposed 5-year protocol fixes fishing opportunities for EU vessels, the EU’s financial contribution, and the terms of support for the Senegalese fisheries sector.

A new framework agreement, in line with the EU reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), has been negotiated 8 years after the expiry of the last protocol. The new agreement permits 38 vessels – 36 vessels targeting tuna and two to fish for hake – to operate again in Senegal’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). This is subject to compensation of €8,690,000 over the duration of the protocol, to which the costs of boat owner licences must be added. The compensation is divided between sectoral support (€750,000/year) and compensation for access.

Commissioner Damanaki emphasised that “Senegal is a key partner because of its strategic location, the high volume of fish landed in the port of Dakar, its role as a member of ICCAT [International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna] and especially its growing commitment to the fight against illegal fishing.”

However, access agreements with foreign nations are a sensitive matter in Senegal – particularly in recent years with the pillage of small pelagic resources by Russian and Baltic fleets – and regularly denounced by local fishermen. Environmental organisations, such as Greenpeace, are also opposed to the agreement negotiated with the EU, stating that it was initialled prior to the finalisation of Senegal’s new fisheries law. Criticisms were also raised by local groups, such as APRAPAM, who deplored the lack of local stakeholder participation in the negotiation, and the lack of transparency in the way that the ministry chose the priorities for sectoral support. Local groups are therefore demanding inclusion in the EU–Senegal Joint Committee that will supervise the implementation of the agreement. The groups, however, welcomed the fact that the agreement did not include access for small pelagics – a key resource for the Senegalese artisanal sector, shared with neighbouring countries.

The EC delegation in Dakar issued a press release to “provide clarification” on the agreement terms, highlighting that the agreement has a double objective: to provide a framework to control the activities of EU fleets in Senegalese waters, while limiting the access to resources for which there is a surplus; and, secondly, to provide sectoral support to the national fisheries policy.

Editorial comment

The proposed agreement and protocol focus mainly on tuna resources migrating throughout the region, both in international waters and within the coastal countries’ EEZs, as in Senegal. Tuna resources are managed by regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs) – ICCAT in this case – where quotas are allocated to the different fishing countries (e.g. Japan, EU, USA, Canada and other coastal countries). Senegal is limited to catching the small quotas allocated by ICCAT, even though annual, large shoals of migratory tuna pass through its waters and could be accessible to its fleets. However, any catch in excess of the ICCAT quota would be illegal. A couple of years ago, Mauritanian fishermen caught 400 tonnes of swordfish in Mauritanian waters, but were unable to sell it because Mauritania did not have a corresponding ICCAT quota for swordfish. In the case of a tuna sustainable fisheries partnership agreement (SFPA), the question of how much can be caught by the different fleets targeting tuna in Senegalese waters is not defined solely by Senegal, which would be the case for marine resources living exclusively in Senegal’s EEZ, but first and foremost by limitations set up by the RFMO (in this case, ICCAT). If Senegal wants to increase its tuna catch, it should negotiate it at that level.

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