Africa’s Artisanal Fishermen Tasks EU on Sustainable Fishing

By Emeka Umejei – Correspondent, Lagos: Transparency in the fisheries sector regarding both the use of the funds designated for the sector and the licensing conditions, is a crucial issue to sustainable fishery, Sid’Ahmed Abeid,President of the artisanal section of Mauritania National Federation of Fisheries said at the Hearing on the EU-Mauritania fishing agreement protocol in Brussels recently.

 “With respect to the financial compensation, for us, the most important thing is not whether we have 1 million, or 10 million, or 100 million Euros. It is that the money should be well spent, transparently, to promote development,” Abeid said.

Abeid emphasised that besides the use of the financial contribution from the fisheries agreement, nothing concrete has been done by the EU in terms of investing in infrastructure or in technology transfer in the sector.

“Such investments are important if we want to develop a true ‘win-win’ partnership, which we hope to be able to do under this new Protocol,” Abeid said.

Though, Abeid acknowledges that Europe remains Africa’s first partner in fisheries, he charged that the partnership should be fair to Artisanal fishermen.

“We have been fighting for that since 1996, first at the national level, and then at international level. Thanks to our international reach, today I can come and speak to you directly,” he said.

According to Abeid, fairness in the EU-African fishing agreement protocol is non-negotiable, because fishing is a source of livelihood, food and jobs for the people.

Abeid emphasised that the technical conditions set out to European fleets is in the right direction.

 Some of the conditions include that European operators allow local fisherman to catch octopus ourselves. He also lauded the development of new fishing zones between both parties.

He further charged European industrial fishing concerns on African waters to push trawlers further off the coast, which he noted will help protect the seabed, decrease competition with pirogues and also reduce by-catch.