The EU Fisheries Council of Ministers met in Brussels on October 18th 2004.
Two agenda items of particular interest to EU-ACP fisheries relations were:
- a policy debate on the Commission?s proposal to establish a Community Fisheries Control Agency. This is intended to play a key role in the EU’s drive to improve compliance with the fisheries regulations established following the 2002 reform of the CFP;
- the renewal of the EU-Angola fisheries agreement. The previous protocol to this agreement expired in August 2004. Negotiations with the Angolan authorities on concluding a new fisheries protocol have not been successful.
The Council confirmed that the tasks of the Community Fisheries Control Agency will include monitoring and control responsibilities on the fishing activities of EU member states within the framework of EU bilateral fisheries agreements. It will also be responsible for international control and inspection schemes within regional fisheries organisations. This is an important political commitment given the requirement for significant investment in monitoring and control, both in technology (VMS, etc) and in human resources (for inspectors, observers etc).
The previous EU-Angola protocol gave EU trawlers access to Angolan shrimp and other demersal resources, and gave access to tuna seiners and surface longliners. Two licences were also granted for experimental pelagic fishing.
In the last few months, Angola has committed itself to establishing, in the short term, a greater degree of local ownership. In the longer term, Angola intends to develop its own fishing sector in a way that will allow foreign fleets to be completely excluded from their waters.
This explains the announcement at the end of September 2004 that a partnership between Angola and Cape Verde had been sealed. This will explore tuna-fishing possibilities on the west coast of Africa. Ten tuna vessels will be involved, and external financing is being sought by the two partners for the purchase of these vessels, particularly from African financial institutions.
Obviously, such a "nationalisatio "nolicy will affect the renewal of access agreements with foreign fleets like those from the EU. Any future agreements are therefore likely to involve some form of joint ventures, as EU operators will have to invest locally. Such an eventuality is very much in line with the Council conclusions on partnership agreements, which call for the creation of joint ventures, transfer of know-how, transfer of technologies, investments etc. Such arrangements will only become attractive if the Angolan authorities are able to offer some security to investors. They also need to demonstrate a capacity to manage their resources effectively, both in order to ensure sustainability and to protect other resource users, particularly in the small-scale sector.
However, experience with the previous Angola-EU protocol is not encouraging. Although EU shrimp vessels were set a catch limit of 5000 tonnes, the protocol stated that these could be raised if the ship owners were prepared to contribute to the improvement of Angola’s fisheries industry. Given the poor knowledge of the state of resources, if such an incentive scheme were used for promoting shrimp-fishery joint ventures, it could quickly lead to unsustainable levels of fishing. What is more, it could also lead to more interference with local artisanal fishing operations. A concern raised by the small-scale sector is the close proximity to the coast of trawler activities, including those from the EU. This is ruining their fishing gear and damaging the coastal eco-system. Other examples, like Senegal to which many EU trawlers have reflagged, demonstrate how a lower level of monitoring and control is applied to such foreign owned "loca "loats.
A new fisheries law is under discussion in Angola. These critical issues will need to be addressed in this process if there is to be sustainable fishing in the future in Angola.