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Tuna Fisheries Agreement With Mauritania Could Be Rejected By Parliament European Union, May 30, 13

A Euro 110 million fisheries deal between Mauritania and the European Union (EU) has received a negative advice from the Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament (EP). The agreements includes besides tuna also several other commercially valuable species. The waters are mostly fished by Spanish flagged vessels.

If this position is adopted by the plenary session through a vote to be held in July, the new agreement will be dead.

After the vote had been postponed for several months, MEPs validated the report by Gabriel Mato, chairman of the Fisheries Committee, who argues that the current conditions are detrimental to the sector.

According to the approved text, the current conditions are not beneficial for the EU or for Mauritania. Therefore, the Parliament has decided to reject their approval for Brussels to negotiate a “new” agreement instead of continuing looking for possible changes within the joint committee between the parties, the agency Europa Press reported.

Although tuna operations in the Mauritania waters are definitely profitable, Mato argues that the pact “is not profitable” for other species and that “the fleet has not requested provisional licenses” with the exception for tuna and several hake vessels.

According to Mato, the fishing regime is “very expensive given the fishing opportunities it offers,” because it increases the cost of the fleet activity “between 300 percent and 400 percent in some cases” even though the fishing chances are “much lower” than in the previous protocols.

The fisheries sector, meanwhile, criticized the absence of the cephalopod vessels in the new agreement.

Negotiators argue that octopus stocks are not in good conditions, something that fishermen deny and so they requested new scientific reports.

The Mauritanian authorities and the EU executive agreed last February to collect new data on the status of some of the affected species, such as the octopus.

But the African country's government decided to postpone the experimental survey until July to assess the actual octopus status, which has caused outrage in the Spanish fisheries sector operating in the waters of the African country until August 2012.

The initial terms of the agreement grant licenses to Europeans for a period of two years in exchange for an annual compensation of EUR 70 million. To that sum additional EUR 40 million should be added, which should be provided by the fleet for the permits.

Mato confirmed he received a letter from the European Fisheries Commissioner, Maria Damanaki, with a copy to the members of the Fisheries Committee, in which the official defends the “breakthroughs” achieved in the latest meeting between the EU and Mauritania.