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Wednesday, 2 January, 2002, 18:02 GMT
Europe loses Senegal fishing rights
Fishermen in wooden canoe
Local fishermen's lives and livelihood are at risk
The European Commission has failed to secure an extension to a fishing rights accord which has allowed European vessels to fish Senegalese waters since 1997.

As a consequence, trawlers from Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and Greece have pulled in their nets and ceased operations, awaiting a resolution to the deadlock - if and when talks resume next month.

Fish in buckets
There is less fish to go round these days
The European Union (EU) had paid Senegal 48m euros for the right to fish its waters from 1997 to March 2001.

The fishing rights accord has since been extended twice.

But agreement on a third extension could not be reached as the EC clashed with the Senegalese authorities over which area should be fished, and the length of rest periods to enable the fish stock to recover, a commission adviser said.

Earlier, the EC had vowed to ensure a future protocol with Senegal would be set out in accordance with scientific principles, and in close consultation with Dakar.

Threat

Africans say no fish means famine.

Over-fishing of African waters by European trawlers poses a threat to both the livelihoods and even the lives of local fishermen, they say.

The Worldwide Fund for Nature has claimed that the European Union fishermen pose a threat to the fish stocks in Senegalese waters due to a desire to raise their catch by 60%.

As stocks decline, fishermen are forced ever further out to sea for an ever smaller catch.

There they face a different threat.

Illegal vessels often turn their lights off at night, putting the locals in small boats at risk of collisions with large trawlers that are difficult to spot in time.

See also:

18 Dec 01 | Sci/Tech
Analysis: The EU fisheries dilemma
18 Dec 01 | Europe
Q&A: Europe's fishing row
05 Sep 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Senegal
01 Aug 01 | Africa
The battle for West Africa's fish
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