Explanatory Memorandum to COM(2007)85 - Conclusion of a fisheries agreement with São Tomé and Príncipe

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The Community and the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe negotiated and initialled, on 25 June 2006, a Fisheries Partnership Agreement which provides Community fishermen with fishing opportunities in São Tomé and Príncipe’s fishing zone. This Partnership Agreement, accompanied by a Protocol and the Annex thereto, was signed for a period of four years from its entry into force and is renewable. On the date of its entry into force, this Agreement repeals and replaces the Agreement between the European Economic Community and the Government of the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe on fishing off the coast of São Tomé and Príncipe which entered into force in 1984.

The Protocol and the Annex thereto setting out the technical and financial conditions governing the fishing activities of European Community vessels were signed for a period of four years from 1 June 2006. Pending the entry into force of the new Agreement, this Protocol and the Annex thereto will enter into force on the date on which the Parties notify each other of the completion of the procedures necessary for that purpose. They will apply with effect from 1 June 2006.

The main objective of the new Partnership Agreement is to strengthen cooperation between the European Community and the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe, thereby creating a partnership framework within which to develop a sustainable fisheries policy and sound exploitation of fisheries resources in São Tomé and Príncipe’s fishing zone, in the interests of both Parties. The Commission’s negotiating position was based in part on the results of an ex-post and ex-ante evaluation carried out by independent experts.

The two Parties are taking part in a political dialogue on topics of mutual interest in the fisheries sector. In the Partnership Agreement, the current priorities of national fisheries policy in São Tomé and Príncipe will allow the identification by mutual agreement between the two Parties of objectives, and the annual and multiannual programming to attain them, with a view to ensuring sustainable and responsible management of the sector.

The Partnership Agreement also provides for encouraging economic, scientific and technical cooperation in the fisheries sector and related sectors.

The financial contribution is fixed at EUR 663 000 per year. Of this financial contribution, 50% will provide annual financial support for defining and implementing a sectoral fisheries policy in São Tomé and Príncipe, with a view to introducing responsible and sustainable fishing. This financial support will be based on annual and multiannual programming (see above).

The fishing opportunities provided for in the Agreement have been laid down according to two categories:  i for the fishing category “freezer tuna seiners”: 25 vessels;  i for the fishing category “surface longliners”: 18 vessels.

Shipowners’ fees have been fixed for each category and, overall, could create an additional annual income of around EUR 165 900 for São Tomé and Príncipe.

The Commission proposes on this basis that the Council adopt the conclusion of this new Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe and the European Community by Regulation.