CEPESCA accuses Senegal of denying fishing permits to EU fleet

Published on
May 26, 2022
Fishing boats from Spain sit at the docks in Senegal, unable to fish due to the country refusing to issue permits.

The Spanish Fisheries Confederation (CEPESCA) has accused Senegal of violating an existing five-year fishing protocol it signed with the European Union in July 2019.

CEPESCA said the West African country has refused to issue permits to the country’s pole-and-line fleet, which has remained moored in the Senegalese port of Dakar since the beginning of 2022. The moored fleet, CEPESCA said, is continuing to accrue operational expenses as the companies pay salaries for sailors and mechanics, port expenses, and licensing fees, despite being unable to earn any income.

The confederation called the situation inexplicable, and has urged the European Commission “to unblock the situation urgently and to defend the interests of European fishermen against third countries that, as in this case, and inexplicably, unilaterally breach a fishing agreement with the E.U.”

The Basque pole-and-line fleet in Senegalese waters, which is represented by Dakartuna, catches skipjack, yellowfin, and bigeye tuna. However, it has not been able to fish regularly for 21 months because the fleet has been prevented “from entering Han Bay and obtaining live bait to fish," CEPESCA said.

Senegal Minister of Fisheries and Maritime Economy Alioun Ndoy said the country’s 1 January, 2022, decision to not issue new licenses to European vessels remained in place. The decision to lock out European vessels from accessing Senegalese fishing permits was reaffirmed on 25 March at a meeting of the Joint Commission between Senegal and the E.U. according to CEPESCA.

“CEPESCA also recalls that the Spanish shipowners, at the request of the European Commission itself, have paid the debt of a non-Dakartuna ships, given the insinuation of the commission that it was an essential condition to obtain the licenses,” CEPESCA said.

Despite the payment of the debt, the confederation says the “situation remains stagnant, which CEPESCA interprets as unacceptable and unjustifiable.”

In July 2019, Senegal signed a five-year fishing agreement with the E.U. in return for EUR 1.7 million (USD 1.8 million). The payment includes EUR 800,000 (USD 857,000) in cash, with the remaining amount provided to programs that support the country's fisheries management policy.

CEPESCA says there is “apparent indifference and inability of Europe to resolve this conflict,” and has urged the Spanish General Secretariat for Fisheries of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food “to activate the necessary aid to avoid the bankruptcy of shipbuilding companies and the loss of jobs.”  

Photo courtesy oc CEPESCA 

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