afrol News, 30 November - The European Union's fishery committee discusses how the newly arrived at fishery agreement with Mauritania can be portioned between EU members. Attempts to stretch the quotas were stopped, referring to environmental limits.
The new EU-Mauritanian fisheries agreement recently approved included increased EU quotas for shellfish (9% up) and cephalopods (10% up), against warnings by environmentalists the quotas already were too high. "However this increase was not sufficient to satisfy the whole of the interested countries," according to an EU document.
The EU granted Spain an additional 5 ships for fishing cephalopods outside Mauritania, thus involving some 50 Spanish vessels. Italy was to keep its 5 vessels off Mauritania and Greece, insisting on fisheries rights in the zone, again was left out.
Greece and Italy, protesting against the decision, were offered the "possibilities of surplus fishing" by the Spanish delegation, an offer that would complicate the Mauritanian limited efforts to monitor the large-scale fisheries off its large coast.
According to the EU document, the German delegation however protested to this Spanish "offer" - as it was held that "surplus fishing" (not agreed upon with Mauritania) in fact would increase the total catch, maybe even exceeding the EU quota agreed upon.
The Council arrived in the majority qualified, Italy and Greece voter against, with a political agreement concerning the proposal for a decision of the Council relating to the new protocol of fishing with Mauritania.
The German delegation expressed its "concern regarding the development of the financial counterpart [Mauritania] in relation to the fishing opportunities." The Germans also especially mentioned the possible effects such a deal could have on the environment and local fisheries, indicating their distrust in the intentions of the Spanish proposal.
The German protest thus lead to the original proposal, increasing only the Spanish fleet in accordance with the fisheries agreement, to be approved. Greece and Italy reportedly voted against.
Mauritania, dependent on the annual 86 million euros produced by the fisheries agreement with EU, has had serious problems monitoring the fisheries off its coast. Environmentalists also for a long time have claimed that the EU is overfishing off the West African coast, while rights group claim coastal communities are ripped off their local resources and livelihood by legal and illegal fisheries by foreign vessels.
According to the EU, some annual 4 million of the total 86 million euros paid to Mauritania are earmarked for the "financial supports for marine research projects, institutional support for fisheries monitoring, the management of fisheries licences, maritime training, development of statistics and for the participation in international seminars and meetings."