Parliament adopted the renewed protocol to the existing EU fisheries partnership agreement with the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe.
The text was approved with 589 votes in favour, 51 against and 48 abstentions.
The new five-year protocol was agreed on 17 April 2019, and has applied provisionally since its signature on 19 December 2019. The protocol is particularly important for EU fishing activities in the southern part of the Gulf of Guinea, as the other agreements with the neighbouring Gabon and Equatorial Guinea are dormant (they currently have no protocol in place). The new protocol provides fishing opportunities for up to 28 purse seiners (16 from Spain and 12 from France) and 6 surface longliners (5 from Spain and one from Portugal), fishing tuna and tuna-like species equivalent to a reference tonnage of 8 000 tonnes per year.
The protocol defines an annual EU contribution of €840 000, of which €400 000 represent access rights to São Tomean waters. The remaining €440 000 are dedicated to supporting sustainable management of resources and the development of local fisheries, in particular by improving the monitoring and control of fishing activities, fisheries research and the quality of fisheries products, supporting small scale fishing and aquaculture, and strengthening international cooperation.
The protocol provides fishing opportunities on the basis of the best available scientific advice and following the recommendations of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). It also enables the EU and São Tomé and Príncipe to work more closely on promoting sound exploitation of fisheries resources in São Tomé and Príncipe waters and to support efforts by São Tomé and Príncipe to develop its fisheries sector, in the interests of both parties.
Moreover, MEPs recognise the fight against IUU fishing as a priority for the EU. In this regard, the EU must substantially enhance its action against IUU fishing by ensuring proper control of fishing activities of EU vessels and other fleets operating in the waters of São Tomé and Príncipe.
First concluded in 1984, it was replaced by the current fisheries partnership agreement in July 2007, then tacitly renewed every four years. Successive implementing protocols have ensured fishing opportunities for EU vessels, in exchange for a financial contribution. The previous protocol, covering the 2014-2018 period, expired on 22 May 2018.