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Gambian lawmakers approve controversial fishing pact with EU


The fishing agreement between The Gambia and the European Union has now come into effect after it was approved by the National Assembly on Monday.

Gambian lawmakers have on Monday approved a controversial fishing agreement with the European Union which will give access to 41 EU vessels to fish in Gambian waters.

The new protocol, which covers a period of 6 years, will offer EU vessels the possibility to fish 3300 tons of tuna and tuna-like species as well as 750 tons of hake per year in the Gambian waters.

The country’s fisheries minister who brought the agreement to the lawmaking body said it will create employment, boost the economy and help Gambia fight illegal fishing.

However, only a Gambian will be working in each vessel with one observation and a veteran lawmaker, Halifa Sallah, said it is a bad deal. Sallah called for it to be renegotiated.

“Looking at the agreement from its face value, I would say that Gambia is horribly disadvantaged… Our ocean is the basis of the future survival of this nation and our young people are now being deported from Europe. I am receiving calls every day of the fear and threat they are being subjected to,” said Sallah.

“And here we are, fishing vessels coming to our waters and we are not negotiating that 50% of people who are going to work in those fishing vessels will be our citizens. How are we protecting the interest of our people? They will be deported here—what type of jobs are we giving them?… They will just give us pittance…”

Also in disagreement, among many other people including the National Assembly member for Banjul North Ousman Sillah, was Amul Nyassi, the lawmaker for Foni Kansala.

Meanwhile, according to the agreement, the EU will pay The Gambia a financial contribution of €550 000 per year.

Half of this yearly contribution will be used to strengthen the sustainable management of fisheries resources and the development of the Gambian fishing sector, according to Gambian officials.

The agreement covers the cooperation in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) and the promotion of the blue economy, including aquaculture.

“The EU trawlers will not fish within the 12 miles zone where there are artisanal fishers…,” said James who described the deal as a good one.

James said every trawler that will be fishing in Gambian waters will carry a Gambian observer and employ about five people.

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