The European Union Council of Ministers has ratified an agreement between the European Union and Mauritius at its ECOFIN session to allow 34 EU tuna vessels to fish in the waters of the island economy.

For Mauritius, providing the EU with fishing opportunities for vessel targeting tuna species will allow the island economy to earn an annual compensation of EUR 660,000 (Rs 26.4 millions). A little less than half this amount (around EUR 302,500) will go towards supporting the fisheries policy of Mauritius.

Moreover, as a further source of revenue for the island nation’s fisheries sector, vessel owners will have to pay a license fee to be authorized to fish in Mauritius waters.

For the EU, this is a significant step forward towards strengthening its network of fisheries agreements in the region, and the importance of this particular agreement is highlighted by the strategic situation of Port Louis in the Indian Ocean.

Further, this move to ratify the agreement represents a definitive endorsement of its fisheries sector Partnership Agreement.

The agreement, which the ministerial department has been monitoring closely through the General Secretariat for Fisheries, had been signed in February 2012 itself. However, due to legal differences, the final decision had not been taken until now.

The agreement, with a duration of 3 years, will effectively allow 22 Spanish tuna purse seiners and 12 Spanish surface tuna longliners to fish in the waters of Mauritius.

To avoid adverse effects on small scale fishermen, EU vessels will only be allowed to fish beyond 15 miles from the coastal baseline.

The original Fisheries Partnership Agreement was set forth by the European Commission to “establish the principles and rules governing the economic, financial and scientific cooperation between the EU and the Republic of Mauritius in the fisheries sector.”

It was stated by the Commission that “its aim is to guarantee the conservation and sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources and develop Mauritius’ fisheries sector.

Apart from its agreement with Mauritius, the EU has fisheries agreements in force in the Indian Ocean with the Seychelles, Madagascar, Mozambique and the Comoros Islands, all of which favour the Spanish fishing sector.

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Picture: Nature