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Procedure : 2015/2119(INI)
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Document selected : A8-0236/2015

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PV 08/09/2015 - 15
CRE 08/09/2015 - 15

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PV 09/09/2015 - 8.3
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Texts adopted
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Wednesday, 9 September 2015 - Strasbourg
Fisheries partnership agreement with Guinea-Bissau: fishing opportunities and financial contribution (resolution)

European Parliament non-legislative resolution of 9 September 2015 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Protocol setting out the fishing opportunities and financial contribution provided for in the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Guinea Bissau (11667/2012 – C8-0278/2014 – 2012/0134(NLE)2015/2119(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (11667/2012),

–  having regard to the draft protocol setting out the fishing opportunities and financial contribution provided for in the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Guinea-Bissau (11671/2012),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 43 and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a), and (7), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8-0278/2014),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2012 on the EU 2011 Report on Policy Coherence for Development(1),

–  having regard to the ex post evaluation report on the Protocol implementing the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and Guinea-Bissau (Contrat cadre FISH/2006/20, Specific Convention No 27, September 2010),

–  having regard to its legislative resolution of 9 September 2015(2) on the draft Council decision,

–  having regard to Rule 99(1), second subparagraph, of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Fisheries and the opinion of the Committee on Development (A8-0236/2015),

A.  whereas the overall aim of the Protocol is to enhance fisheries cooperation between the EU and Guinea-Bissau in the interest of both parties by establishing a partnership framework within which to pursue a sustainable fisheries policy while exploiting fishery resources in a responsible and sustainable way in the Guinea-Bissau exclusive economic zone, and to obtain an appropriate share, corresponding to the interests of the EU fleets, of the fishing surpluses available;

B.  whereas the European Union should do everything in its power to ensure that sustainable fisheries agreements concluded with third countries are in the mutual interests of both the EU and the third countries concerned, including their local population and their fishing industry;

C.  whereas the first fisheries agreement between the EEC and Guinea-Bissau dated back to 1980 and whereas from that time until 15 June 2012 the fleets of EEC/EU Member States had access to fishing opportunities in Guinea-Bissau waters for as long as the series of protocols implementing the agreement continued in force;

D.  whereas the fishing opportunities granted to EU fleets under the present Protocol are as follows: 3 700 GRT (gross registered tonnage) for freezer trawlers (shrimp) and 3 500 GRT for freezer trawlers (fin-fish and cephalopods), 28 freezer tuna seiners and longliners, and 12 pole-and-line tuna vessels; whereas the EU–Guinea-Bissau Fisheries Agreement is of great importance as it is one of the EU’s few fisheries agreements allowing access to mixed fisheries;

E.  whereas transfers of funds to Guinea-Bissau under the Agreement, not least in return for access to resources, account for a substantial portion of Guinea Bissau’s budget; whereas, however, transfers under the heading of sectoral cooperation were suspended at one time, because of certain difficulties with the uptake of aid in Guinea-Bissau;

F.  whereas Guinea-Bissau faces shortcomings with regard to socio-economic development in general and the fisheries sector in particular, in significant areas including vocational training, the structure of the sector and recognition of the role played by women in the sector;

G.  whereas, to date, the performance of sectoral cooperation has not been globally satisfactory; whereas, notwithstanding, progress has been recorded in fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance, sanitary inspection capacity and the participation of Guinea Bissau in regional fisheries bodies; whereas there is still room for improvement in terms of ensuring that the agreement does more to promote transparency and accountability in sectoral cooperation and to foster the sustainable development of the Guinea-Bissau fisheries sector and of related industries and activities, so as to ensure that the a greater proportion of the added value created by the exploitation of the country’s natural resources remains in Guinea-Bissau itself;

H.  whereas the fact that industrial shipowners trans-ship or land their catches outside Guinea-Bissau (in Dakar or on the Canary Islands, for example) is one reason why the economic benefits of industrial fishing are minute and limited to modest job creation (148 local crew members under the previous Protocol); whereas in 2010 there was only one fish-processing plant operating in Guinea-Bissau;

I.  whereas although there has recently been some progress, trade in fishery products with the EU has been hampered by Guinea-Bissau’s inability to comply with EU health requirements;

J.  whereas IUU fishing (illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing) in Guinea-Bissau waters is a long-running problem; whereas in 2008 and 2009 the national authorities found 58 vessels operating in breach of the rules, of which 11 had been fishing without a licence and 7 had been fishing in prohibited zones; whereas although some progress has been made and Guinea-Bissau clearly has some means of controlling fishing – including an observer corps and high-speed patrol boats – there are still shortcomings in the fisheries surveillance and control system in Guinea-Bissau’s territorial waters;

K.  whereas the gaps in knowledge that have been found to exist, both as regards the impact of the Agreement on the marine ecosystem and ensuring that access is limited to the surplus stocks that cannot be caught by local fleets, and owing to the dearth of up-to-date biological data (especially after EU fleets ceased to operate in Guinea-Bissau, in 2012) should be treated as a cause for concern and must be remedied as soon as possible;

L.  whereas Parliament must be immediately and fully informed at all stages of the procedures concerning the Protocol or its renewal;

1.  Considers the Agreement to be a matter of great importance both for Guinea-Bissau and for the EU fleets operating in Guinea-Bissau’s waters; believes, therefore, that the results achieved to date in the field of sectoral cooperation have been unsatisfactory and calls on the Commission to take every step required – by installing mechanisms for increased transparency, accountability and participation of beneficiaries in particular small-scale artisanal fishing communities and, if need be by revising and increasing the sectoral support component of the Agreement, as well as finding better and different ways to increase the take-up rate for that support – in order to reverse the trend seen in recent decades;

2.  Maintains that the Agreement has to promote more genuinely sustainable development of Guinea-Bissau’s fisheries sector and of related industries and activities, in particular small scale fisheries that greatly contribute to food security and local livelihoods, increasing the added value that stays in Guinea-Bissau as a result of exploitation of the country’s natural resources; recognises that advances have been made in recent years, but considers that determined and lasting efforts are needed in order to produce noticeable results; believes that the areas to support, not least with technical assistance, could include institutional capacity building, training of fishing professionals, partnerships with artisanal small-scale fisheries, and stronger emphasis on gender policies so as to confer recognition on, and take advantage of, the role of women (distribution and marketing of fish, storage, first-stage processing, etc.);

3.  Considers that employment possibilities for local seamen on board EU vessels provided for by the Protocol should be fully exploited;

4.  Considers that measures to prevent illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the exclusive economic zone of Guinea Bissau should be reinforced, including by means of improved monitoring, control and surveillance through the extensive use of the satellite-based vessel monitoring system, logbooks, inspectors and the implementation of decisions by regional fisheries organisations;

5.  Maintains that sectoral support under the Fisheries Agreement needs to be dovetailed more effectively with development cooperation instruments, especially the European Development Fund (EDF);

6.  Calls on the Commission, despite the efforts that have been made, to continue helping the Guinea-Bissau authorities improve the fisheries surveillance and control system in Guinea-Bissau waters with a view to intensifying measures to combat IUU fishing;

7.  Stresses that this agreement contains a non-discrimination clause; is pleased to see that, in the context of the negotiations, Guinea Bissau has made public the fisheries agreements it has concluded with third countries and that they may be consulted; calls on the Commission to follow closely developments in these agreements and in fishing activities in Guinean waters;

8.  Considers it desirable to improve the quantity and accuracy of data on all catches (targeted and bycatch) and, more generally, the conservation status of fishery resources so that the impact of the Agreement on the marine ecosystem and on fishing communities can be gauged more accurately; and believes that Guinea-Bissau should be helped to develop its own means of obtaining such data; calls on the Commission to ensure that the bodies supervising the implementation of the Agreement, including the Joint Scientific Committee, operate on a more regular and transparent basis;

9.  Calls on the Commission to send Parliament the minutes and conclusions of meetings of the Joint Committee provided for in Article 9 of the Agreement, the multi-annual sectoral programme referred to in Article 3 of the new Protocol and the findings of the related annual assessments, and the minutes and conclusions of the meetings provided for in Article 4 of the new Protocol; calls on the Commission to enable representatives of Parliament to attend Joint Committee meetings as observers and to promote the participation of Guinea Bissau fishing communities; and requests that, during the final year of application of the Protocol and before negotiations are opened for its renewal, the Commission submit a full report to Parliament and the Council on its implementation, without imposing unnecessary restrictions on access to that report;

10.  Considers that the Commission should endeavour to include in the multiannual sectoral programme provided for in Article 3 of the Protocol objectives leading to the actual development of local fisheries, in particular of artisanal fisheries and of the fish processing industry, including by means of more landings in Guinea-Bissau, and other economic activities and partnerships in the fisheries sector;

11.  Considers that the Joint Committee provided for in the Partnership Agreement should ensure that the soundness of all the mechanisms provided for by this Protocol is unquestionable, given the problem of corruption;

12.  Calls on the Commission and the Council, within the limits of their powers, to keep Parliament immediately and fully informed at all stages of the procedures concerning the new Protocol and its renewal, pursuant to Article 13(2) of the Treaty on European Union and Article 218(10) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

13.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau.

(1) OJ C 72 E, 11.3.2014, p. 21.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0298.

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