The Spanish Confederation of Fisheries (CEPESCA) has accused Senegal of breaching a five-year fisheries protocol it signed with the European Union in July 2019.
CEPESCA said the West African country has refused to issue permits to the country’s baitboat fleet, which has remained moored in Senegal’s port of Dakar since the start of 2022. The moored fleet, said CEPESCA, continues to accumulate operational expenses. for the companies pay the salaries of sailors and mechanics, port expenses and license fees, although they cannot earn any income.
The confederation described the situation as inexplicable and urged the European Commission “to unblock the situation as a matter of urgency and to defend the interests of European fishermen against third countries which, as in this case, and inexplicably, unilaterally violate a fishing with the EU”.
The Basque baitboat fleet in Senegalese waters, represented by Dakartuna, catches skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye tuna. However, it has been unable to fish regularly for 21 months because the fleet was prevented “from entering Han Bay and obtaining live bait to fish”, CEPESCA said.
Senegalese Minister of Fisheries and Maritime Economy Alioun Ndoy said the country’s January 1, 2022 decision not to issue new licenses to European vessels remains in place. The decision to block European vessels’ access to Senegalese fishing licenses was reaffirmed on March 25 during a meeting of the Joint Commission between Senegal and the EU according to CEPESCA.
“CEPESCA also recalls that the Spanish shipowners, at the request of the European Commission itself, paid the debt of a non-Dakartuna ship, given the commission’s insinuation that this was an essential condition for obtaining licenses,” said CEPESCA.
Despite the payment of the debt, the confederation affirms that “the situation remains stagnant, which CEPESCA interprets as unacceptable and unjustifiable”.
In July 2019, Senegal signed a five-year fisheries deal with the EU in exchange for 1.7 million euros ($1.8 million). The payment includes 800,000 EUR (857,000 USD) in cash, with the remaining amount going to programs that support the country’s fisheries management policy.
CEPESCA affirms that there is “an apparent indifference and an inability of Europe to resolve this conflict” and urged the Spanish General Secretariat for Fisheries of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food “to activate the necessary aid to avoid the bankruptcy of shipbuilding companies and the loss of jobs.”
Photo courtesy of CEPESCA