#Spain worries over #Mauritania fish

Image - Minister Miguel Arias Cañete
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Image - Minister Miguel Arias Cañete

The head of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment (Magrama), Miguel Arias Cañete stressed “the great concern with which Spain contemplates the blockade in the negotiations of the new protocol of the fisheries agreement with Mauritania.”

The latest round of negotiations between the European Union (EU) and Mauritania was completed in December 2011 and the Spanish Government is concerned about the fact that “it does not seem there has been any real progress,” said the minister during the meeting of the European Council of Fisheries Policy, which has taken place since last Monday in Brussels.

So far, there has been “little progress” to sign a new protocol.

Arias Cañete recalled that the existing bilateral fisheries agreement expires on 31 July, “so it is necessary that negotiations are resumed as soon as possible, even before the suggested date,” Magrama reported.

For Spanish vessels, this agreement is important and “vital” because “in many cases, there is no viable alternative,” he explained.

“The value of this agreement can not be disregarded within the framework of bilateral relations with the EU,” he added.

The Spanish Minister requested the provisional application of the protocol as soon as it is signed.

“The non-provisional application would involve the stoppage of the fleet for a period of extremely long time, which could cause economic and social harm that could lead, in some cases, to its disappearance,” he warned.

Arias Cañete will travel to Mauritania at the end of this month to monitor the process of negotiations of the new bilateral fisheries pact.

In early April, the EU Commissioner of Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, admitted that the delay in signing the new fisheries agreement with Mauritania may cause the interruption of the fishing activities in the waters of that African country.

“Given the current state of negotiations” to sign a new agreement, “there is a risk of disruption of the fishing activities,” the Commissioner recognised.

The financial contribution for European vessels to be able to fish in Mauritanian fishing grounds amounted to EUR 86 million during the first year of the covenant; and to EUR 76 million, EUR 73 million and EUR 70 million during the second, third and fourth years, respectively .

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