Explanatory Memorandum to COM(2007)580 - Conclusion of the fisheries agreement with Guinea-Bissau

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The European Community and the Republic of Guinea-Bissau negotiated and initialled, on 23 May 2007, a Fisheries Partnership Agreement which provides Community fishermen with fishing opportunities in the Guinea-Bissau fishing zone. This Partnership Agreement, accompanied by a Protocol and the Annexes thereto, was signed for a period of four years and is renewable. On the date of its entry into force, this Agreement repeals and replaces the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau and the European Community on fishing off the coast of Guinea-Bissau which entered into force on 29 August 1980.

The Commission’s negotiating position was based in part on the results of an ex-post evaluation carried out by external experts.

The main objective of the new Partnership Agreement is to strengthen cooperation between the European Community and the Republic of Guinea-Bissau, thereby creating a partnership framework within which to develop a sustainable fisheries policy and sound exploitation of fisheries resources in the Guinea-Bissau fishing zone, in the interests of both Parties.

The two Parties have agreed to take part in a political dialogue on topics of mutual interest in the fisheries sector. They also undertake to ensure the sustainable exploitation of resources and the control and surveillance of Guinea-Bissau fishing zones, and to work towards building up institutional capacities in the Republic of Guinea-Bissau in order to carry out a genuine sectoral fisheries policy. To this end, a Multiannual Sectoral Programme adopted by the Government, which aims to promote responsible sustainable fishing, will be presented at a National Conference before the end of 2007 at which the Community will be represented.

In this context, the two Parties will agree on the priorities to be decided upon for such support and will identify the objectives, the annual and multiannual programming and the criteria to assess the results to be obtained, with a view to ensuring a sustainable and responsible management of the sector. For shrimp fishing, a limitation of fishing effort was the subject of a specific undertaking by Guinea-Bissau to respect the conditions laid down by the fisheries management plan annexed to the Protocol.

The financial contribution is fixed at EUR 7 million per year. 35% of this financial contribution (EUR 2.450 million) will be allocated each year to the support and implementation of initiatives taken in the context of the sectoral fisheries policy drawn up by the Government of Guinea-Bissau. An additional specific contribution of EUR 500 000 per year will also be targeted at improving the health and hygiene conditions of fishery products. However, this contribution could also be used to support control and surveillance measures. The Protocol will also contain a financial mechanism, with a maximum allocation of EUR 1 million per year, aiming to improve the use of fishing opportunities by shipowners, and support for setting up joint ventures.

In terms of fishing opportunities, 19 seiners, 14 pole-and-line vessels and 4 surface longliners will be authorised to fish, as will shrimp trawlers and fin-fish/cephalopod trawlers (total of 4 400 gross registered tonnes (GRT) for each category). However, at the request of the Community, exploratory fishing trips may be carried out under the Agreement. If they are conclusive, the Parties may decide to award new fishing opportunities to Community vessels.

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

The Commission proposes on this basis that the Council adopt a Regulation on the conclusion of this new Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Guinea-Bissau.