Madagascar gets back to business with European Union on tuna fishing within its waters

MADAGASCAR – The government of Madagascar and the European Union have signed a new sustainable fisheries partnership agreement and protocol on tuna fishing. 

The renewed agreement, which had expired in 2018 due to a dispute between the two parties on the regulation of fishing in Malagasy territorial waters, showcases the resumption of cooperation between the two parties after a four years hiatus.

The sustainable fisheries partnership agreement is a longstanding cooperation agreement between Madagascar and the EU which enables the vessels of the latter to fish in the waters under the jurisdiction of the archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.

Under the new provisions of the agreement, access rights for catching tuna have been increased, thus the price to be paid by European trawlers for catching fish will increase to 220 euros (US$214) per ton against 142 euros (US$138) previously.

This revaluation makes Madagascar the country with the second highest access tariff for tuna catches in the Indian Ocean after that in force in Mauritius (us$225), reports Agence Ecofin.

 In addition, the European fishing fleet will be reduced by 30% and the volume of total authorized catches will be limited to 14,000 tonnes per year.

“We must reduce the number of fishing vessels to be able to use our resources sustainably and in a responsible and fair way,” explains Paubert Mahatante, Minister of Fisheries and the Blue Economy.

According to the official, an EU delegation is expected in the country by October 24 to finalize the agreement.

Madagascar sets up strategies to beef up the fishing sector

Overall, the Madagascan sector should earn nearly 12.5 million euros (US$12.1 million) over the period of entry into force of the agreement set at 4 years.   

As a reminder, Madagascar produces more than 124,000 tonnes of fish per year according to World Bank data.

The fishing sector contributes up to 7% of the GDP and provides the means of subsistence for nearly 1.5 million people.

In recent years, the government has been implementing strategies to increase revenues in the sector, which is still struggling to exploit its full potential.

The country’s diverse marine ecosystems are facing unprecedented degradation from climate change and overfishing, with growing numbers of small-scale and industrial fishing boats competing for dwindling catches.

A government action plan, supported by the World Bank under its SWIOFish2 project, aims to improve the sustainability of the country’s fisheries, and tackle illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Efforts to support sustainability have long been hindered by a lack of publicly available information on fisheries.  

Basic data – such as the licenses granted to fishing companies, the conditions of international fisheries agreements, and the status of fish stocks and catches – have rarely been in the public domain.

To this end, the State joined the Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI) late last year.

The FiTI is a global partnership that seeks to increase transparency and participation for more sustainable management of marine fisheries.

By making fisheries management more transparent and inclusive, the FiTI promotes informed public debates on fisheries policies.

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