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Source: European Parliament

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT NON-LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Seychelles and its implementing protocol (2020-2026)

(05243/2020 – C9‑0073/2020 – 2020/0002M(NLE))

The European Parliament,

 having regard to the draft Council decision (05243/2020),

 having regard to the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Seychelles (05246/2020),

 having regard to the Protocol on the implementation of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Seychelles (2020-2026),

 having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 43, Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a)(v), and Article 218(7) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) (C9-0073/2020),

 having regard to its legislative resolution of …[1] on the draft Council decision,

 having regard to Article 208 of the TFEU on policy coherence for development,

 having regard to Article 31(4) of Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 on the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP)[2],

 having regard to its resolution of 12 April 2016 on common rules in respect of application of the external dimension of the CFP, including fisheries agreements[3],

 having regard to the report of 29 April 2019 entitled ‘Ex-post and ex-ante evaluation study of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Seychelles and of its Implementing Protocol’,

 having regard to the Seychelles Blue Economy Strategic Policy Framework and Roadmap: Charting the Future (2018-2030),

 having regard to the report of the 18th Session of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) Scientific Committee of November 2015, in particular its recommendation regarding yellowfin tuna,

 having regard to the report of the 21st Session of the IOTC Scientific Committee of December 2018, in particular its assessment of stocks in the Indian Ocean,

 having regard to the report of the 21st Session of the IOTC Working Party on Tropical Tuna, held in Donostia-San Sebastian, Spain, from 21 to 26 October 2019,

 having regard to Rule 105(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

 having regard to the letter of the Committee on Development,

 having regard to the report of the Committee on Fisheries (A9-0184/2020),

A. whereas the Commission and the Government of Seychelles have negotiated a new sustainable fisheries partnership agreement (EU-Seychelles SFPA), together with an implementing protocol, for a six-year period; whereas the SFPA with Seychelles is the most important tuna agreement for the Union in terms of catch volume, as it grants access to Seychelles waters to 40 purse seiners, 8 surface longliners, and support vessels, in accordance with the relevant Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) resolutions;

B. whereas the overall aim of the EU-Seychelles SFPA is to promote sustainable fishing and to define the rules that govern access for Union fishing vessels to the fishing zone of Seychelles;

C. whereas the new protocol grants fishing opportunities to EU vessels in the Seychelles fishing zone, giving them access to an appropriate share of the surplus of living marine resources, in accordance with the best available scientific advice and the resolutions and recommendations of the IOTC, within the limits of the available surplus;

D. whereas the EU’s commitments under international agreements, notably the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), have overall been supported and should still be supported under the SFPA, in particular SDGs 14 and 10; whereas all EU actions, including the conclusion of the SFPA, must contribute to those objectives;

E. whereas SFPAs are among the most transparent and sustainable fisheries agreements in the world and provide a sophisticated and robust legal framework and promote high social, environmental and compliance standards;

F. whereas the agreement promotes the stepping up of economic, financial and scientific cooperation between the EU and Seychelles with the aim of achieving sustainable fisheries; 

G. whereas when the EU is not present in a third country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the surplus of stocks are exploited by other fleets that often have lower social or environmental sustainability standards, whose low-cost and unsustainable products end up on the EU market;

H. whereas the principle of non-discrimination between the different fleets fishing in the waters of the third country with which the EU has concluded an agreement is a fundamental principle contributing to sustainable fishing;

I. whereas SFPAs also ensure consistency between the principles governing the common fisheries policy and commitments made under other European policies (sustainable use of third-country resources, combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, integration of partner countries into the global economy, contribution to sustainable development in all its dimensions, and better political and financial governance of fisheries);

J. whereas the aim is also to enhance cooperation between the European Union and the Republic of Seychelles in order to promote a sustainable fisheries policy and sound exploitation of fisheries resources in the Seychelles fishing zone and in the Indian Ocean, in the interest of both parties; whereas, in addition, this cooperation will also help to promote decent working conditions in fisheries activities;

K. whereas the renewal of the protocol would help strengthen monitoring, control and surveillance and would contribute to improved governance of the fisheries in the region;

L. whereas Seychelles is the operational and logistical centre for tuna fishing activity in the Indian Ocean, and whereas it is important for the EU to maintain an instrument allowing deep sectoral cooperation with a major player in ocean governance at the sub-regional level because of the extent of its fishing area under its jurisdiction; whereas strengthening the relationship with Seychelles also serves to build alliances within the framework of the IOTC.

M. whereas Seychelles benefits from dedicated sectoral support that provides for multi-year funding opportunities;

N. whereas the fisheries sector, including tuna fishing and EU vessels under this agreement, is of great importance to the Seychelles economy, as it is essential for the country’s economic development, job creation and food security, and whereas sustainable fish stocks are key to its long-term stability;

O. whereas the SFPA has contributed overall to the sustainable development of the Seychelles fisheries sector, and should continue to do so, in particular as regards artisanal fisheries, with the aim of ensuring long-term food security and food sovereignty for the country’s population;

P. whereas it is important that the SFPA contributes to improving working conditions in the fisheries sector;

Q. whereas, under the previous agreement, the overall utilisation rate was 7 % for surface longliners and 69 % for tuna purse seiners, meaning that an average of 27 EU seiners drew authorisation, when up to 40 could have done so;

R. whereas EU tuna vessels operating under the agreement in the period between 2014 and 2017 landed approximately 22 % of their regional tuna catch at the Indian Ocean tuna cannery (at the international market price);

S. whereas one of the basic preconditions for achieving sustainable fisheries is having access to accurate and reliable data;

T. whereas the IOTC stock assessments indicate that skipjack and bigeye tuna are exploited at sustainable levels but that yellowfin tuna stocks are overfished and are subject to excessive fishing effort in the region;

U. whereas climate change is expected to have a negative impact on the different populations of tuna in the Indian Ocean;

V. whereas in 2015 the Scientific Committee of the IOTC recommended reducing yellowfin tuna catches by 20 %, but this recommendation was not adequately followed up; whereas in 2018 the Scientific Committee reiterated its recommendation to reduce yellowfin tuna catches in order to allow the recovery of the biomass to sustainable levels;

W. whereas the Seychelles 2018-2030 Blue Economy Strategic Policy Framework highlights the country’s priorities on food security, professional training, marine protected areas and strengthening regional partnerships;

X. whereas combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is one of the basic preconditions for achieving sustainable fisheries;

Y. whereas the Union’s financial contribution to Seychelles under the SFPA is EUR 5.3 million per year; including EUR 2.8 million for sectoral support; whereas the total contribution of the EU budget is EUR 31.8 million over six years; whereas the fee to be paid by ship-owners per tonne of tuna caught was increased from EUR 55 to EUR 75 under the previous protocol, and whereas the new protocol provides for an increase from EUR 80 per tonne in 2020 to EUR 85 per tonne for the six years; whereas the total contribution by ship-owners is estimated to be EUR 26.4 million over the full duration of the protocol; whereas this amounts to a total financial contribution from the European Union over the entire duration of the protocol of EUR 58.2 million, or EUR 9.7 million per year;

Z. whereas since 2018 the EU has, via the European Investment Bank, invested EUR 17.5 million in loans and grants for the alteration and extension of Port Victoria, the largest commercial harbour in Seychelles; whereas that investment has been beneficial in terms of the economic competitiveness of Seychelles, job creation and the sustainable growth of all sectors of the local economy;

AA. whereas a number of Seychelles-flagged vessels are owned by EU citizens or companies;

AB. whereas Parliament must be immediately and fully informed, at all stages, of the procedures relating to the SFPA, its protocol and, if applicable, their renewal;

1. Stresses that the EU-Seychelles SFPA, while providing fishing opportunities for EU vessels and promoting scientific cooperation, has overall ensured that the fishing activity of the EU fleet adheres to sustainability objectives and should keep ensuring that it adheres to environmental protection objectives and does not harm marine biodiversity, meaning that EU vessels fish an appropriate share of the surplus of living marine resources, as calculated on the basis of the best available scientific knowledge and advice;

2. Stresses the need to foster scientific cooperation and to exchange biological conservation and environmental statistical data necessary for the management and conservation of living marine resources so that both Union and other fishing vessels fishing in Seychelles waters can operate in line with sustainability criteria;

3. Stresses that the fisheries sector is an important sector for the Seychelles economy and is essential to the country’s economic development, employment and food security;

4. Stresses the importance for the SFPA to be fully in line with and contribute to the conservation and management measures introduced on the basis of the resolutions and recommendations adopted by the regional organisations to which the Republic of Seychelles belongs, notably the IOTC;

5. Welcomes the fact that Seychelles and the EU intend to strengthen their cooperation in the IOTC and to contribute to its resolutions and recommendations; encourages the Commission to put forward joint proposals on strengthening monitoring and controls, as well as on the impact of climate change on tuna populations in the Indian Ocean, including by promoting scientific cooperation;

6. Considers that the EU-Seychelles SFPA should continue to promote further economic, financial, technical and scientific cooperation between the EU and Seychelles in the field of sustainable fisheries and sound exploitation of fishery resources in the Seychelles fishing zone, including support for the control, surveillance and inspection of fishing activities;

7. Takes note of the fact that the Seychelles fisheries sector, including its artisanal component, has not been sufficiently involved throughout the negotiations; calls for the participation of and dialogue with local communities and fisheries stakeholders to be improved, as much as possible, by keeping them informed and through their systematic inclusion in the implementation of the SFPA, its protocol and future renewal, with a view to ensuring that the interests and the development of the Seychelles fisheries sector are not undermined by the EU-Seychelles SFPA and to avoid a disruption in the activities of artisanal local fisheries;

8. Takes note that the protocol to the EU-Seychelles SFPA could potentially lead to an increase in fishing capacity, with a stable number of authorised purse seiners and an increased number of longliners, as all the possibilities were not used under the previous agreement, despite scientific recommendations to reduce the catch of yellowfin tuna, and despite calls from the Seychelles fishers’ union to reduce fishing effort in the region;

9. Calls for the implementation of the measures recommended by the IOTC, particularly those concerning the restoration of yellowfin tuna stocks; urges the Commission, together with the Seychelles authorities, to take all necessary measures, in line with the IOTC, to stop the overfishing of yellowfin tuna by the EU fleet, including introducing catch limits for yellowfin tuna and stepping up the fight against IUU fishing; asks the Commission and the Seychelles authorities to promote among other contracting parties the implementation of such measures by all fleets operating in Seychelles waters;

10. Emphasises the need to improve selectivity with a view to strongly reducing bycatch and the unwanted catch of all species, in particular of sensitive species and juveniles, in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of stocks;

11. Welcomes the fact that the protocol requirement for EU tuna seiners to undertake to supply tuna canning plants and/or the Seychelles local processing industry has been met;

12. Welcomes the introduction of measures to limit the number of support vessels and the use of fish aggregating devices (FADs) in order to reduce their negative impact on juveniles and marine litter; welcomes the obligation to use biodegradable FADs, which must be recovered when they are no longer operational; stresses that these measures should be closely monitored and evaluated; considers, however, that these measures are not sufficient to limit the negative impact of FADS on biodiversity and marine litter and that their use must be quickly and drastically cut back;

13. Welcomes the fact that, for the purposes of environmental management and the observation of marine ecosystems, the Seychelles authorities are envisaging the establishment of a specific fund to which the owners of EU purse seiners will contribute;

14. Stresses the importance of strengthening measures for the prevention and collection of plastic waste in order to reduce marine litter;

15. Welcomes the establishment of marine protected areas by Seychelles in its waters over recent years; expresses concern over the lack of effective management; recalls that they must be managed in line with environment protection objectives, and warns of the negative effects that allowing other economic activities such as oil exploration and exploitation or maritime transport could have on these protected areas; recalls the importance of surveillance and monitoring of these areas so as to have the best scientific knowledge for supporting their management;

16. Stresses that the collection of accurate and reliable data, the exchange and processing of data and effective surveillance, monitoring and control of fisheries are key to ensuring sustainable fish stocks in the long term, and that the EU-Seychelles SFPA must reinforce cooperation in these fields; welcomes the possibility of carrying out risk-based joint inspection programmes on EU vessels, monitoring, control and surveillance programmes and the transition to an electronic reporting system (ERS) as soon as possible, once agreed by the Joint Committee.

17. Stresses the need to strengthen EU-Seychelles cooperation in the fight against IUU fishing, including through training Seychelles officials in monitoring and inspection;

18. Welcomes the fact that the Seychelles Government undertakes to make public and to exchange information relating to any agreement authorising foreign vessels in its fishing zone and the resulting fishing effort, in particular the number of fishing authorisations issued and the catches reported, as foreign fleets are currently fishing under unpublished agreements in Seychelles waters; reiterates the importance for the Seychelles authorities to only sign fisheries agreements with countries that are committed to combating IUU fishing and with fleets that follow strict sustainable fisheries management rules;

19. Warmly welcomes the Seychelles authorities’ undertaking not to agree to conditions more favourable than those set out in the agreement for other foreign fleets fishing in the Seychelles fishing zone that have the same characteristics and catch the same species as those covered by this agreement and its implementing protocol;

20. Invites the Commission to ensure that the reflagging of EU vessels is in compliance with Regulation (EU) 2017/2403 on the sustainable management of external fishing fleets, including by promoting a mandatory International Maritime Organization (IMO) number that would be attached to a vessel for its entire lifetime;

21. Stresses the importance for sectoral support to be targeted more precisely so as to finance measures that actually support the sustainable development of the local fishing sector, in particular its artisanal segment, and that contribute to efficient fisheries management, paying special attention to crew safety training, the improvement of monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) and training for women and young people, building on the positive aspects of sectoral support under the previous agreement; calls for the publication of the detailed list of projects being funded by the sectoral support provided under this SFPA and for improved communication on the outcomes of the programmes;

22. Welcomes the fact that the parties have undertaken to promote economic, trade, scientific and technical cooperation in the fisheries sector and in activities relating thereto, and to encourage human and institutional capacity-building in the fisheries sector to improve skills development and enhance training capacities so as to contribute to sustainable fishing activities in Seychelles and the development of the blue economy;

23. Calls on the Commission to ensure the necessary oversight of the contribution made by EU ship-owners to the fund created by the Seychelles authorities, for the purpose of environmental management and observation of marine ecosystems in their waters, including in the Joint Committee;

24. Calls for a detailed evaluation of the effects of the SFPA on local economies in terms of employment, infrastructure development and social and labour conditions;

25. Calls on the Commission to send to Parliament and make publicly available the minutes and conclusions of the meetings of the Joint Committee provided for in Article 12 of the SFPA and the findings of the annual evaluations; calls on the Commission to enable representatives of Parliament to attend Joint Committee meetings, including via teleconference, and to encourage the systematic participation of Seychelles fishing communities and associated stakeholders;

26. Calls on the Commission and the Council, acting within the limits of their powers, to keep Parliament immediately and fully informed at every stage of the procedures relating to the agreement and its protocol and, if applicable, of its renewal, pursuant to Article 13(2) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and Article 218(10) of the TFEU;

27. Draws the attention of the Commission and the Council to the fact that persistently proceeding with the provisional application of international agreements before Parliament has given its consent is not compatible with the guiding principles of the Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Law-Making, and that this practice damages the democratic credentials of the EU as a whole, and calls therefore for the procedure to be improved;

28. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, and the Government and Parliament of the Republic of Seychelles.

 

 

LETTER OF THE COMMITTEE ON DEVELOPMENT

Pierre Karleskind

Chair

Committee on Fisheries

BRUSSELS

Subject: Opinion on the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement and its Implementing Protocol (2020-2026) between the European Union and the Republic of Seychelles (2020/0002(NLE))

Dear Mr Karleskind,

Under the procedure referred to above, the Committee on Development has been asked to submit an opinion to your committee. At its meeting of 12 May 2020, the committee decided to send the opinion in the form of a letter.

The Committee on Development considered the matter at its meeting of 12 May 2020. At that meeting, it decided to call on the Committee on Fisheries, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution.

Yours sincerely,

Tomas Tobé

 

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Development calls on the Committee on Fisheries, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

1. Points out that EU fisheries policy must be consistent with the development objectives set out in Article 208 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and, in particular, the objectives referred to in Sustainable Development Goal 14 of the 2030 Agenda: ‘Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development’;

2. Stresses that fishing, especially tuna fishing as an important sector for the Seychelles economy, is essential to the country’s economic development, employment opportunities and food security; stresses that access for EU vessels should be genuinely limited to the level of surplus fish stocks in line with the principle of maximum sustainable yield; points out that fishing by EU vessels must not compromise food security for local populations; stresses that healthy fish stocks are essential to ensuring food security in the long term; calls for measures to be taken to tackle the overfishing of yellowfin tuna;

3. Recalls the destructive impact of marine litter on the local biodiversity and ecosystems of island territories; calls, therefore, for enhanced waste management and plastic collection policies that would strengthen the Seychelles economy towards a more sustainable and ecosystemic model and increase the attractiveness of its tourism sector;

4. Calls for concerted efforts to foster local economic development and strengthen coastal communities dependent on marine resources; stresses, in particular, that EU sectoral support, in line with the ambition of the external dimension of the European Green Deal, should assist the development of the artisanal and local fisheries sector in a sustainable manner and should benefit women and young people in particular;

5. Recalls the need to include local communities, especially representatives of fishing communities, in negotiations for sustainable fisheries partnership agreements (SFPAs) and their implementing protocols, as well as in the design of sectoral support plans;

6. Recalls the essential role of women in non-industrial fishing, particularly in the marketing and processing of products; recalls the importance of developing support in the form of training, for example in safety on board, and by identifying missing links in the food production chain, such as a lack of small infrastructure for the cold chain;

7. Underlines that the structural economic vulnerabilities of the Seychelles must be addressed with the involvement of local small and medium-sized enterprises in the main income-generating sectors, such as fisheries and tourism;

8. Stresses that small island developing states are extremely dependent on the oceans for transportation, food security and tourism, and that coordination among actors in different sectors is needed to maximise the potential of these sectors;

9. Calls for transparency with regard to the use of EU funds and publication of the list of funded projects, which should include detailed information on the cumulative effects of the various fisheries agreements in force in the exclusive economic zone on fish stocks and maritime biodiversity, in order to allow for better monitoring, prevent duplication and ensure public awareness of the financing options for projects;

10. Welcomes the decision made by the Seychelles Government to increase the country’s marine protected areas (MPAs) to 30 % of its waters, calls on the authorities to implement a strong model of governance and management for those MPAs, and to ensure that proper criteria are developed to regulate activity and that rules in high and medium biodiversity protection zones are enforced accordingly;

11. Calls for more ambitious goals with regard to the employment of Seychelles seamen on EU fishing vessels; reiterates the need to abide by International Labour Organization (ILO) principles and, in particular, advocates the signing of ILO Convention No 188.

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

Date adopted

1.10.2020

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

25

0

2

Members present for the final vote

Clara Aguilera, François-Xavier Bellamy, Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, Isabel Carvalhais, Rosanna Conte, Rosa D’Amato, Fredrick Federley, Giuseppe Ferrandino, João Ferreira, Søren Gade, Francisco Guerreiro, Niclas Herbst, Pierre Karleskind, Predrag Fred Matić, Francisco José Millán Mon, Cláudia Monteiro de Aguiar, Grace O’Sullivan, Manuel Pizarro, Caroline Roose, Bert-Jan Ruissen, Annie Schreijer-Pierik, Ruža Tomašić, Peter van Dalen, Theodoros Zagorakis

Substitutes present for the final vote

Manuel Bompard, Nicolás González Casares, Valentino Grant

 

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

25

+

ECR

Bert-Jan RUISSEN, Ruža TOMAŠIĆ

GUE/NGL

João FERREIRA, Manuel BOMBARD

NI

Rosa D’AMATO

PPE

François-Xavier BELLAMY, Niclas HERBST, Francisco José  MILLÁN MON, Cláudia  MONTEIRO DE AGUIAR, Annie  SCHREIJER-PIERIK, Peter VAN DALEN, Theodoros ZAGORAKIS

RENEW

Izaskun BILBAO, Fredrick FEDERLEY, Søren GADE, Pierre KARLESKIND

S&D

Clara AGUILERA, Isabel CARVALHAIS, Giuseppe FERRANDINO, Nicolás GONZALEZ CASARES, Predrag Fred MATIĆ, Manuel PIZARRO

VERTS/ALE

Francisco GUERREIRO, Grace O’SULLIVAN, Caroline ROOSE

 

 

2

0

ID

Valentino GRANT, Rosanna CONTE

 

Key to symbols:

+ : in favour

 : against

0 : abstention

 

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