Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Fisheries agreement with Kiribati gets new protocol

The European Commission (EC), on behalf of the European Union (EU), and the Republic of Kiribati initialled a new protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement in Nadi, Fiji.

The Commission welcomes this renegotiation of the new Protocol that confirms the commitment of the EU to work with its partners on strengthening sustainable fisheries wherever its fleets operate.

The new protocol provides fishing opportunities for tuna vessels. Out of the EU annual financial contribution EUR 1,325,000, EUR 350,000 has entirely been earmarked for sectoral policy support to help the Republic of Kiribati to promote responsible and sustainable fishing in their waters. It should be noted that in this agreement the shipowner's fee was substantially increased.

The fishing opportunities available under the new protocol include a reference tonnage of 15,000 tonnes, which corresponds to fishing authorisation for four purse seiners and six long liners. The fishing opportunities have been calculated on the basis of the scientific recommendations.

According to the Commission, bilateral relationships with countries in the Pacific are ensuring the benefit for all parties involved. They are also important for the regional development in the Pacific and for the strengthening the EU position in regional fisheries organisations such as the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).

Fishing opportunities under this Protocol will be of the use for the ship owners coming from Spain, France and Portugal.

This new protocol to the fisheries partnership agreement will cover a period of three years and will replace the current Protocol, which expires on 16 September 2012.

In the past few years, the EU has been moving from traditional fisheries agreements to partnership agreements which, in the case of developing countries, focus on providing full support to the partner country to establish sustainable fishing in its waters.

Fisheries Partnership Agreements also increase the coherence of such agreements with the other policies of the EU in the field of development and protection of the environment. The EU has currently 15 Fisheries Partnership Agreements with third countries.

It remains to be seen what effect the new partnership will have on remedying the problems posed by Kiribati's massively overfished waters. Local fishermen have long been pushed out of competition by commercial fishers, with destabilizing effects on the Kiribati economy and diet. Any efforts to establish sustainable fishing in the Pacific will have to solve that problem first.

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