Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreements in the South West Indian Ocean

Posted on November, 15 2019

WWF & Stop Illegal Fishing present recommendations to secure future SFPAs that can benefit both the EU and coastal States in the SWIO
Since the late 1980s, the EU has entered into bilateral fishing agreements with countries in the South West Indian Ocean (SWIO). These bilateral agreements, negotiated and concluded by the European Commission on behalf of all EU Members States, have evolved to become Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreements (SFPAs). SFPAs sit within the framework of the external dimension of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and enable EU vessels to fish surplus stocks in the partner country’s EEZ within an agreed framework of cooperation.
Within the SWIO, only SFPAs for tuna are in place with the EU; there are no multi-species Agreements. Currently, with two Protocols in force (in the EEZs of the Seychelles and Mauritius), the SFPA mechanism secures access to around one third of the tuna caught by EU vessels in this region.  In 2017, approximately 91% of processed tuna exports from Mauritius, 99% from Seychelles and 98% from Madagascar were sent to the EU. This directly benefits the EU in terms of nutrition and economy, and also provides employment and other benefits to the countries where the factories are located, as well as to the factory owners.
For SFPAs to continue to create mutual benefits for the coastal States and the EU within the changing dynamics of global fisheries, there are some challenges to overcome. These include an improved system for reporting what has been caught, better information transparency, and stronger links to the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) conservation and management measures.

The Status and future of fisheries partnership agreements was written by Stop Illegal Fishing in cooperation with WWF.
Stop Illegal Fishing is an independent, African based not for profit organisation committed to ending the devastating impacts of illegal fishing across all African fisheries. By working in partnership with governments, civil society, NGOs, intergovernmental organisations and the fishing industry, Stop Illegal Fishing is harnessing the necessary international support and African commitment to support positive change.