News / Africa

Guinea-Bissau Wants More Money for Fish Agreements

Fishermen prepare their nets at a fishing port of Guinea-Bissau, March 10, 2009 (file photo).
Fishermen prepare their nets at a fishing port of Guinea-Bissau, March 10, 2009 (file photo).
Drew Hinshaw

Officials in Guinea-Bissau say the European Union is paying too little for the right to fish in their seas, and must pay more if they want to continue doing so.

This wetland country off Africa's Atlantic coast is no rich nation.  In fact, the United Nations ranks it the world's sixth poorest.

Yet just off shore, under the waves that batter its 80 islands and ebb into its river deltas, Guinea-Bissau has an absolute treasure trove - an abundance of fish.

Next month, when government leaders fly to Brussels to renegotiate their fishing agreement with the European Union, they plan to ask for an increase in the $10 million annual fee Europe pays for rights to float 37 fishing ships in Guinea-Bissau waters.

Guinea-Bissau signed the fishing agreement in 2007 when it owed more than $1 billion in debt, an impossible sum for the country's cashew-based economy to repay.  European debtors forgave much of that debt in December of last year.  

Now that the country finds itself on a stronger financial footing, watchdog groups like the International Union for the Conservation of Nature are telling Guinea-Bissau to be a little less desperate during negotiations.  The group's program chief, Nelson Gomes Dias, says the country should ask for something it has never truly received: a fair deal.

The former minister says he is flabbergasted the European Union is paying just $7 million euros (about $10 million) to trawl Guinea-Bissau's 54,000 square kilometers of waterways.

"Seven million [euros] is peanuts.  It is peanuts," noted Dias.  "When they see the boats that come here to fish, seven million is peanuts. The potential is $250 million each year [for] the sector.  But we get only seven million. Can you imagine?"

Jorge Gomes, a technical advisor in Guinea-Bissau's Artisanal Fisheries Ministry, says other international fishermen work the country's waters, but the European Union is among the few actually paying to fish there.

Gomes noted that dozens of vessels, large and small, simply cruise unseen into Bissau's waters from as near as Senegal and as far away as China.

Fishing Ministry Director-General Virginia Pires Correia says that collectively, foreign fishermen are allowed to reel in as much as half the fish thought to be swimming the country's seas.  That is a lot, she concedes, but the ministry is in no position to turn new vessels down.

She says because Guinea-Bissau is a developing country, it needs the support of international partners.  The European Union is a partner of importance for Guinea-Bissau, and the fishing sector is a sector of importance for the country's economic development, Correia says.  She says Guinea-Bissau really needs this money, this direct revenue for the public treasury, to cover the general internal budget needs.

When the EU fishing contract expires in June, Correia says the ministry will ask Europe for about $15 million a year to renew the agreement.  But conservation group official Dias says it should be several times that amount.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid