EU-Guinea-Bissau fisheries talks break down
With the current agreement between the EU and Guinea-Bissau set to expire on the 23rd of November this year, representatives of both have been meeting in Brussels to discuss the terms of a new protocol implementing the current current sustainable fisheries partnership agreement (SFPA).
This new agreement would allow around fifty EU vessels to continue fishing species such as tuna, cephalopods, horse mackerel or shrimps in Guinea-Bissau's waters for the coming years within a transparent legal framework. However, due to disproportionate economic and technical conditions proposed by Guinea-Bissau's authorities, negotiations have been put on hold. The fishing vessel owners represented by EuropÃªche regret these developments and hope that negotiations can resume and lead to a realistic agreement beneficial for both parties in the near future.
According to EuropÃªche, the agreement provides for an annual financial contribution of â‚¬9.2 million (which includes â‚¬3 million annually to support the fisheries sector), as well as an increased contribution to be paid by fishing vessel owners. This Protocol is known as a multi-species agreement since it covers tuna, cephalopods, horse mackerel, shrimps as well as other demersal species and forms part of the tuna network of fisheries agreements in West Africa.
â€˜It is time for both parties to negotiate a new agreement before the current Protocol comes to an end. Both the EU and GB have shown great interest in the renewal since it offers complementary fishing opportunities for our vessels while contributing to the overall wealth and economy of the coastal areas of the country,â€™ said EuropÃªche President Javier Garat, commenting that the current agreement, apart from the economic contribution from both the EU and European operators, has created more than 150 direct jobs for local fishermen and 500 local indirect jobs that will be lost unless a new deal is struck.
He added that many EU vessels have been fishing in Guinea-Bissau's waters for many years and their livelihood depends on this fishery, which is why there is such a strong interest in continuing this strategic partnership and contributing to the local economy.
â€˜Our fishing vessel owners are willing to continue operating in Guinea-Bissau's waters under the most transparent fisheries agreement in the world. However, despite the European Commission efforts to reach a mutually-beneficial agreement, the conditions offered by Guinea-Bissauâ€™s authorities are far from being realistic, not based on facts and technically and economically unviable,â€™ he said.
â€˜Under these terms, the EU fishing sector would simply refuse to continue fishing in Guinea-Bissau's waters. Nevertheless, our operators trust that in the next round of negotiations the positions can converge in order to achieve a sustainable and good value for money agreement for both the EU and Guinea-Bissau.â€™
He pointed out that the Protocol allows for the development of scientific research, surveillance, artisanal fisheries, training, know-how and higher quality products.
â€˜Needless to say, other fishing nations such as China are present in these waters, whose standards and levels transparency are significantly lower than those of the Europeans, particularly after the latest legislative developments,â€™ Javier Garat said.
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