Home » Africa: Gambia’s Fish for EU’s Money: Who Wins and Who Loses in the Deal?

Africa: Gambia’s Fish for EU’s Money: Who Wins and Who Loses in the Deal?

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The Gambia will allow European Union member states to use fishing trawlers to catch tunas and hake fish on its waters, in exchange for financial and capacity development assistance.

The agreement was signed between The Gambia and the EU in October 2018, under the protocol of Sustainable Fishing Partnership Agreement (SFPA).

It licenses the EU vessels to fish in Gambian waters for six years, possibly catching 3300 tons of tuna and tuna-like species. The vessels are also allowed to fish 750 tons of hake fish per year.

In return, the EU will pay The Gambia 550,000 euros per year. The agreement also covers cooperation to fight illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

A total win for Gambia
The Minister of fisheries, James Gomez hailed the deal as a ‘total win’ for The Gambia. He said “since tuna and hake are deep-sea fishes and local fishermen cannot catch them due to their capacity constraint, it’s prudent to allow others to catch them while The Gambia gets paid.

“For 22 years, we have not been able to get a dime from the fishing industry and we know that people were fishing in our waters. The EU agreement will make sure that the two strategies in the National Development Plan (NDP) are implemented,” he said.

Being deep-sea species, he said tuna is highly migratory too with fast speed to traverse from one country’s territory to another.

“This agreement will help us gain something from the resources that God has given us. Otherwise, they will be there and we will gain nothing because it is migratory. They will move from here to Senegal, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Cape Verde and those countries are benefiting,” he said.

Gomez said apart from EU’s own contribution, ship owners will also make cash payment to The Gambia, though this was not announced in the EU deal.
However, stakeholders and experts have criticized the deal on the grounds that it poses risks to The Gambia whose monitoring and surveillance mechanisms are too weak to adequately check the activities of EU’s 41 vessels at sea should they go beyond the authorized species as indicated in the agreement.

Lamin Manneh, a fisherman for thirty years, expressed concern that the EU trawlers may catch more than they are allowed to. He cited the low capacity of the Gambian navy to monitor them.

“If the EU vessels limit their catches to tuna and hake, there’ll be no problem. But if they go beyond that, it will be difficult for us. In my 30-year career, I have seen many trawlers catching fish that they wouldn’t need and ended up throwing them in the sea.”

Source: chronicle.gm

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