The European Union and China Like a 'Marine Mafia' Exploiting Our Seas

News the Celtic League:

The Celtic League General Secretary, Rhisiart Talebot, has received a reply from the EU Fisheries Commission about the activities of EU flagged super trawlers in waters forming a broad arc from the NW of Africa to Orkney.

These vessels with a massive processing capacity are rapidly devastating fish stocks in these areas and the issue was recently in focus in Donegal where indigenous fishing are having to go further and fish longer to make a living.

The super trawlers also impact marine mammals and again off the SW of Ireland there were recent concerns expressed about deaths of numbers of smaller cetaceans which were washed ashore.

The EU fishery access agreement with poor West African States is also shameful in that many of the local fishermen with small craft who are literally on subsistence incomes cannot compete with the EU vessels processing anything up to 200 tonnes a day.

The deals with these States involving the EU and also more recently the Chinese Mauritania deal are mired in controversy.

The Commission response is as usual couched in the double speak beloved of the bureacracts of Brussels. It talks of exploiting:

‘surplus resources in the partner countries' exclusive economic zones in return for financial compensation’.

Unfortunately the local communities do not see this ‘compensation’.

These vessels are also notorious for over fishing and many have been prosecuted over the years. However its clear from the EU response that suggestions that ‘fishery observer’ should be carried ‘or environmental monitors’ are not being acted out in practice and only lip service is being paid to proper oversight.

There are vast amounts of money to be made from this factory fishing and it’s clear that interests from Europe to the Far East (China) are acting almost like a marine mafia exploiting the seas.

The efforts of NGOs (like the Celtic League) and larger environmental groups such as Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd can only do so much without the will in the Capitals of Europe to confront this a man made ecological disaster awaits!


Dear Sir,

Thank you for enquiry regarding the monitoring of "super-trawlers" flying the flag of EU Member States.

As regards Mauritania, please note all the activities of fishing vessels flying the flag of an EU Member State in the waters under the jurisdiction of Mauritania are governed by the Fisheries Partnership Agreement and associated Protocol between the European Union and the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. This means that only EU vessels which are in the possession of a fishing authorisation (licence) issued in the framework of this Agreement and Protocol are allowed to fish in Mauritania.

Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreements (SFPAs) are highly regulated frameworks between the EU and non-EU partner countries which allow EU vessels to exploit surplus resources in the partner countries' exclusive economic zones in return for financial compensation. SFPAs put emphasis on resource conservation and environmental sustainability, and guarantee that all EU vessels are subject to supervisory and transparency regulations. They also contribute to the development of the fisheries sector in the partner country and to better fisheries governance. By ensuring the sustainable exploitation of surplus marine biological resources, SFPAs are of mutual benefit to the EU and to the local population and fishing industry of the partner country. They also contribute to the achievement of development goals, in particular food security, and provide employment to several thousands of people involved in fisheries sector. SFPAs have become a benchmark for the management of fisheries and are considered by most stakeholders as a transparent and sustainable tool for international fishing.

The current Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Mauritania has been in force since 16 December 2006 and the current 4-year Protocol entered into provisional application on 16 November 2015. More information about the FPA with Mauritania and the on-going Protocol can be found here:…/cfp/internati…/agreements/index_en.htm.

The Annex to the Protocol sets out the technical conditions governing the activities of all EU fishing vessels operating in Mauritania. These include extensive and detailed provisions on the monitoring, control and surveillance of these vessels such as the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) and catch reporting (ERS), inspections at sea and in port, the embarkation of observers as well as procedures for dealing with any infringements. In addition, the sectoral support paid under the Protocol contributes to strengthening Mauritania's monitoring, control, surveillance capacity and the fight against illegal fishing. Moreover, the on-going revision of the Fishing Authorisations Regulation


currently under discussion in the Council and soon to be presented to the European Parliament, aims inter alia at strengthening the management of authorisations of European vessels fishing outside European waters.

As regards the Lithuanian-flagged vessel MARGIRIS, we can confirm that this vessel was in possession of a fishing authorisation issued under the current Protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Mauritania for the period from 1 April to 30 June 2016, i.e. during the period mentioned in your enquiry. An analysis of the vessel's movements in this period indicates that it was operating within the fishing zone authorised for this category of vessels (category 6 – pelagic freezer trawlers). The MARGIRIS did not have on board a scientific observer in this period. Instead, other EU vessels of the same category fulfilled the obligation under the Protocol for at least 2 vessels per year to take on board a scientific observer.

Best regards,

European Commission
DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries
Unit F.2 - Information, communication,
inter-institutional relations, evaluation and programming”

Public Relations Officer Mannin Branch

Issued by: The Mannin branch of the Celtic League.

TEL: 01624 877918 or 07624 491609



The Celtic League established in 1961 has branches in the six Celtic Countries including our own Mannin branch. It promotes cooperation between the countries and campaigns on a range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, military activity and socio-economic issues

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