Greens: Make small-scale fisheries a priority


Chris Dove, contributing editor, reporting from Malaga, Spain

Published on
December 1, 2009

Members of The Greens/European Free Alliance on Tuesday met at the European Parliament in Brussels to discuss ways to make the European Union’s involvement in developing countries’ fisheries more sustainable and fair.

Following criticism of EU fisheries agreements with developing countries, the Swedish government is seeking to accept responsibility and contribute to the implementation of EU external fisheries policy.

“One part of the solution is to ensure that partnerships are given meaningful content and lead to long-term fisheries and development cooperation with contracting states in West Africa and other parts of the world,” said Mikael Karlsson, president of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC).

In its report titled “To Draw the Line — EU Fisheries Agreements in Africa,” The Greens highlighted that fisheries partnership agreements (FPAs) cost the EU more than EUR 150 million (USD 226 million) in 2009, representing 16.8 percent of the total fisheries budget. This meets the needs of some 718 fishing vessels, of which 59 percent come from Spain. One-quarter of total financial contributions were earmarked for policy goals in contracting states, the most important with West Africa in maintaining its long tradition of European fishing.

SSNC met fisheries workers, civil servants and government officials in four West African countries — Mauritania, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal and Guinea — and found that most demersal fish (fish that feed on or near the bottom of the ocean) and many other fish stocks are overfished, with little or no room to increase production by, for example, allowing access to foreign vessels.

SSNC found few signs that the EU money benefits the fishing industry, at least not small-scale fisheries.

Speaking from Brussels on Wednesday, The Greens said: “Fisheries and development policies are interconnected. However, there is a lack of coherence in the FPAs. Most funding should go direct to the fisheries, but they are not the ones in control.”

According to the report, “if development cooperation does not succeed in promoting sound management of resources and good governance, it will hardly succeed in achieving sustainable development.”

One of the report’s key recommendations calls for small-scale fisheries management to be prioritized.

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