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Europêche president Javier Garat. (Photo: EC)

Europêche values new fisheries agreement with Mauritius but claims more coherent approach in Indian Ocean

EUROPEAN UNION
Thursday, May 18, 2017, 23:40 (GMT + 9)

Europêche applauds the negotiations leading to the settlement of a new protocol between the European Union (EU) and the Republic of Mauritius but regrets the missed opportunity to strengthen sustainable fisheries and ocean governance in the Indian Ocean by linking this and other fisheries agreements to regional management policies and negotiations.

The organisation representing the European fishing sector recalls that on April 26 the two parties have signed the new protocol to implement the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement (SFPA), setting the legal conditions to allow EU tuna fishing vessels to fish in Mauritius waters for the next four years.

Through a statement, Europêche expresses its support to DG MARE negotiating team, whose agreements have proven positive and profitable for both the EU and third countries.

The fishing body strongly believes that European SFPAs are the most transparent and mutually beneficial fisheries agreements in the world. For this purpose, the fishing sector demands additional human and financial resources for this unit, to allow them to negotiate more and better SFPAs with other relevant countries.

The tuna organisations that Europêche represents, namely OPAGAC, ANABAC and ORTHONGEL, welcome these positive results, which are important not only to strengthen the tuna network fisheries agreements in the Indian Ocean but also to consolidate strategic access to fish resources.

However, the fishing body argues that the renewal of the Protocol with Mauritius should have paved the way for better collaboration with this country to achieve better results within the Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (RFMO) governing these waters called the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC). This would have allowed for a better exchange of best practices and the development of regional policies to contribute to the fight against IUU fishing and better governance in the Indian Ocean.

“We have requested in numerous occasions the need to work towards an alliance with IOTC countries, notably Seychelles, Mauritius and Madagascar. We were disappointed to observe that during the negotiations with Mauritius, no questions were raised regarding IOTC negotiations,” pointed out Javier Garat, President of Europêche.

Garat stressed that regional management should be fundamentally linked to fisheries agreements’ talks, and that they believe that in the case of Mauritius, it is particularly important to achieve a closer cooperation and understanding.

In his view, the proposal tabled by Mauritius for the next IOTC session, extremely limiting the number of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) and supply vessels, should have never been presented.

“These measures are not founded on any scientific recommendation of the IOTC Scientific Committee, and has no basis to further tighten management measures that we already found hard to accept last year, with no time to evaluate its effects on the yellowfin stock. This will certainly hamper the fishing activities of the EU vessels operating in the area and therefore will bring the positions of both parties into conflict for the upcoming IOTC negotiations,” Garat concluded.

Related article:

EU and Mauritius sign new fishery agreement protocol



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