Parliament endorsed the current protocol to the EU-Mauritania fisheries partnership agreement (FPA), on Tuesday, despite objections from some MEPs that it imposes higher licence fees and reduced fishing opportunities, e.g. it excludes octopus. The protocol has applied provisionally since 1 August 2012.
"We now have to prepare for the renewal of this agreement, due to expire at the end of 2014, to ensure that the next protocol improves the current conditions and that Commission negotiators make sure it includes the whole sector", said rapporteur Gabriel Mato Adrover (EPP, ES), who recommended rejecting the protocol.
He especially regretted that no access was granted to the cephalopod (octopus) fishing fleet, leading to job losses especially in the Spanish regions of Galicia and the Canaries.
MEPs who favoured the protocol argued that it is more sustainable than the previous one, and is consistent with the rules of the new Common Fisheries Policy, which have yet to enter into force. They also argued that it would serve the needs of the local population better, inter alia because the protocol includes a special contribution in kind by the EU fleet to meet their nutritional needs. It also provides more job opportunities for Mauritanian seamen.
Under the protocol approved today, EU fishing vessels are allowed to catch various species of fish and shellfish in Mauritanian waters in exchange for an EU payment of €70 million a year, of which €3 million is development aid for the local fisheries sector. Seven EU countries use the protocol at present, but Spain is the main beneficiary. The agreement is the biggest of the EU’s fisheries agreements in terms of the volume and variety of fisheries products as well as the financial contribution.
The protocol will be in force until the end of 2014. Up to now, most licences have been purchased by Spanish operators, followed by France and various other countries.
The resolution was passed by 467 votes to 154, with 28 abstentions