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Evaluation of the EU–Kiribati FPA highlights issues for the future protocol

09 September 2012

The EC has published the ex post evaluation of the current EU–Kiribati FPA protocol, and also provided an ex ante evaluation of a potential future protocol on sustainability.

Currently, the FPA provides fishing possibilities, with a reference tonnage of 6,400 tonnes of tuna per year, for four EU purse seiners. The evaluation shows that for every euro invested by the EU and fleet owners yearly €4 of value added was generated, 75% accruing to the EU and 25% to Kiribati. Value added for the EU is most important in the catching and upstream sectors, whilst for Kiribati, it is almost entirely focused in the input sector, principally in the form of payments for access and sectoral support, and vessel support services, in particular for trans-shipment.  

The cost of access for vessel owners represents around 4% of the average sales prices received for catches made under the protocol. The evaluation deplores the fact that the protocol has not been effective in supporting the creation of any joint enterprises or any significant developments in the Kiribati fish catching or processing sub-sectors, ‘due largely to the economics of doing so’. However, data provided in 2011 by the Spanish ‘Cluster of Joint ventures’ (CEPPT) show that a private joint venture with Kiribati has been quite successful, providing more than 11,000 tonnes of tuna.

Although the EU fleet is only a small player in both Kiribati and the region, some concerns are noted in relation to responsible fishing, including the high catches of bigeye tuna, considered to be over-exploited. The evaluation recommends that ‘Given the high level of juvenile bigeye tuna catches taken in the FAD fishery by the EU fleet, direct measures should be included in the protocol to mitigate against this problem’. Such measures could include the use of FAD management plans.

A key issue highlighted by the evaluation is the fact that the protocol is a tonnage-based protocol, with payments for access made per tonne, whilst the national Kiribati policy, in line with regional initiatives, is now to negotiate and provide access based on vessel days (Vessel Days Scheme – VDS).

It further recommends that the EU should continue to engage actively with the RFMO, the WCPFC, in efforts to ensure responsible fisheries: ‘As part of this process, given some of the weaknesses identified in the evolving VDS system, the EU should support the establishing of target and limit reference points for tuna stocks, so as to ensure the integrity of the scheme by linking stock status to the management system’.

Editorial comment

In its communication on the reform of the external dimension of the common fisheries policy, the EC insisted on the importance of pursuing regional strategies. The example of Kiribati shows that such a strategy may have at least two components: to continue to engage actively in RFMOs in order to promote sustainable fisheries – like, in the case of WCPFC, promoting the setting up of limit reference points for tuna stocks – and to ensure that conditions made under bilateral agreements reflect appropriately the regional policies and commitments taken. However, some issues, like the use of FADs, need to be addressed in a coherent manner in all RFMOs. The current efforts of the EU sector to propose measures to manage and report on the use of FADs is encouraging from that point of view.


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