The EC announced that the second round of negotiations between Senegal and the EU for signing a Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement (SFPA) allowed “both parties to progress on various elements of the future agreement, such as the duration, the sectoral support implementation, the monitoring of the catches, and scientific cooperation”.
The Senegal Press Agency emphasised that Senegal wants to conclude a new fisheries agreement with the EU mainly to ensure “a steady supply” of tuna raw material for its processing plants. Meanwhile, EU tuna vessels, particularly seiners, have expressed an interest in fishing in Senegalese waters as part of their regional strategy, because they have recently returned to the region under the SFPA protocol with Mauritania. In the absence of an EU–Senegal agreement, the access of EU tuna vessels would still be possible through chartering operations, after denunciation of the current fisheries agreement.
Greenpeace is opposing the signing of any agreement because, in its view, “there is no surplus of resources”, while other local groups such as APRAPAM have expressed reservations regarding the potential expansion of fishing possibilities for non-tuna species, in particular deep-sea species (hake).
In a letter to negotiators, APRAPAM and CAPE asked for hake not to be included in the negotiations, given the high uncertainty about the state of this stock; uncertainty that is shared with Mauritania. “Until an in-depth study on the status of the stock, and the potential impacts of increased exploitation has been completed, and that precautionary reference points are established which ensure that the stock can be restored and maintained well above a level of abundance which can produce MSY [maximum sustainable yield] in the long term, no fishing opportunities should be allocated to EU vessels.” Moreover, “as this is a shared stock, a concerted approach with Mauritania – which is exploiting this resource – must be taken for the management of that fishery.”
The principle of EU fleets having access only “to the surplus of resources that cannot be caught locally”, now enshrined in the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), will have to be respected in any potential SFPA, including with Senegal. This “surplus” condition, however, does not apply as such to tuna agreements – now the majority of (S)FPAs. Tropical tuna fisheries are regularly analysed by regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs) – ICCAT for the case of Senegal – and access is allocated at that level. The main aspect of a tuna SFPA will be to ensure that access conditions to tuna within a coastal country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) are compatible with management measures taken by ICCAT, and promote local sustainable development. Regarding the uncertainties about the state of some stocks such as deep-water hake in Senegal, it should be noted that the new EU financial instrument – the EMFF – contains provisions that make it possible to finance research studies in areas where EU vessels would operate under multispecies SFPAs (i.e. mixed agreements).