EU Flashing Cash to Maintain Indian Ocean Tuna Fishing Monopoly

EU NAVFOR Somalia Operation ATALANTA. (PHOTO CREDIT: EUNAVFOR)

The European Union (EU) is accused of using its sustainable fishing funds as leverage to keep the fishing of vast amounts of tuna in the Indian Ocean, Politico Europe reports.  

Critics say that EU vessels, mainly French or Spanish, deploy fish aggregating devices, catching up to one-third of the tuna in those waters.

Concerned about the EU’s practices and overfishing, a group of 11 Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) member countries have called for the use of floating devices to be limited to allow fish to recover and ensure the species’ survival.

The IOTC member states’ proposal also includes a 72-day moratorium on the practice each year, as well as a limit on the number of devices that can be used. 

The director-general of Somalia’s fisheries ministry and head of its delegation to the IOTC, Mohamoud Badrudiin, said that Somalia voted in favor of the proposal to protect tuna stocks because the country cannot afford to lose them.

Due to failed rains and persistent drought in Somalia in recent years, millions of livestock have died, resulting in child malnutrition and mass migration.

“Those people who are already suffering from drought, they have only seafood left,” he said. “Industrial fisheries are trying to exploit the fact that we have a low enforcement capacity, and to do that to these people is inhumane,” said Badrudiin.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), says Somalia loses $300 million annually due to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

The EU has launched a campaign to oppose the proposal, and it is using its sustainable fisheries partnership agreements with countries to channel millions of euros in development aid to countries that are also members of the IOTC, which could help to derail the proposal.

Umair Shahid, the manager of WWF’s Indian Ocean tuna program, said that their aim is to minimize the ecological effects of tuna fishing. This would create an opportunity for young tuna to mature, particularly during the peak season, which would improve the tuna population.

Certain nations view the proposal as a way to ensure that every state has the same access to fish stocks, as the EU currently has a monopoly as a result of their usage of floating devices.

“The EU has always suffered from a violent duality between its development aid policies and its commercial strategy. On one hand, it provides financial aid to help countries eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development,” said Bloom Africa in a January report. “On the other, its own delegations impede economic development and oppose environmental protection measures.”