Shellfish Fleet Considers Abandoning Mauritanian Waters

The 24 vessels that form part of the fleet fishing for shellfish in Spain under the fishery agreement between Mauritania and the European Union (EU) decided to waive the renewal of their licenses from July 1.

As reported by the Spanish Fishery Confederation (Cepesca), the decision is due to the fact that the Mauritanian fishery authorities have hardened the technical measures agreed in the fishery agreement “unilaterally”.

Under this bilateral agreement, the Mauritanian government announced its intention to ban the use of the ‘shrimp chain’, a necessary accessory of the fishing tackle for rig trawlers fishing for shrimp and prawn.

Cepesca complains that the agreement reached with the European Commission (EC) in March 2008 is infringed in this way, in the framework of the Fishery Agreement Joint Committee between the EU and Mauritania.

According to the president of the National Association of Shellfish Freezer Trawlers (Anamar), Angel Muriel, this prohibition contradicts the agreement that sets the use of this extra rig until the Joint Scientific Committee — established by the EU and Mauritania — evaluates their effects.

Muriel said that investigators from the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO), from Spain, and Imrop, from Mauritania, have not found a negative impact on the use of the shrimp chain at the ocean bottom as it is muddy and sandy.

The results of the study coordinated by the two institutes also showed that a ban not only reduces 20 per cent of shrimp catches and 40 per cent of the prawn, but it also doubles the amount of waste in each set.

“The shellfish fleet has asked the Spanish Government and Andalucía board to express the need to solve this conflict in Brussels, since otherwise, from 1 July, 24 vessels will stop working, 384 crew members whose jobs are onboard those ships will be unemployed and 1,920 indirect jobs generated by this fleet in Andalucía, mainly in Huelva, and in Galicia, will come to an end” said Cepesca in a press release.

If this situation continues, the Spanish seafood fleet would have to start scrapping. Muriel finds that the action taken by the authorities in Mauritania is a way of exercising pressure on the EU before the renegotiation of the bilateral fishing agreement.

Cepesca General Secretary, Javier Garat, required the maximum political effort at all levels to ensure the continuation of the activity of the Spanish vessels fishing under fishery agreements with third countries.

Garat also recalled that on June 15, 2011 the fishery pact between the EU and Guinea Bissau expires.

By Analia Murias(FIS)


Source: FIS, May 19, 2011; Image: Cepesca