Questions on New Imple­menting Protocol to the EU-Gabon Fisheries Part­nership (2021-2026): concerns for marine ecosystems and coastal commu­nities in Gabon

Indiendatum: nov. 2021

Question for written answer E-004972/2021
to the Commission
Rule 138

Caroline Roose (Verts/ALE), Grace O'Sullivan (Verts/ALE), Benoît Biteau (Verts/ALE), Francisco Guerreiro (Verts/ALE), Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana (Verts/ALE), Michèle Rivasi (Verts/ALE), Nora Mebarek (S&D), Miguel Urbán Crespo (The Left), Anja Hazekamp (The Left)

The new Implementing Protocol grants optional fishing possibilities for four trawlers targeting deep-sea crustaceans under exploratory fishing. A study of Gabon’s fisheries (Ekouala, 2013) indicates that during oceanographic campaigns with experimental fishing gear, the catch composition showed significant bycatch levels. The annexes to the protocol indicate high authorised bycatch limits, despite many fish stocks in Gabonese and adjacent waters being overexploited or unassessed (lack of reliable/consistent data) (UN Food and Agriculture Organization).

Considering the destructive impacts of bottom-contacting gears on bycatch and the seabed, and that these fisheries have already been exploited – in the 1990s and 2000s by Spanish vessels – why does ‘exploratory’ fishing need four trawlers to reach its objectives?

The ex post evaluation of the previous protocol highlights the low total value-added received by Gabon (11 %), due to the absence of landings and tuna processing infrastructure in Gabon, and notes that sectoral support has not been used optimally. It also mentions delays and inconsistencies in data transmission by Member States.

How does the Commission plan to concretely allocate (insufficient) sectoral support to fisheries and management measures, including small-scale fisheries, especially women, thus ensuring that the agreement will have bigger socio-economic benefits for the country? Will it publish annual reports on the use of sectoral support?

Has it assessed the impacts of increased maximum tonnage in the new protocol on pelagic ecosystems, elasmobranch bycatch and coastal communities?