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The alternative to The EU tuna fishing embargo


Nouakchot, June 17, 2008

According to the EU commission, European member states have exceeded by 4.400 metric tons their Year 2007 allowed red tuna fishing quotas. Therefore, and in order to prevent red tuna species extinction, the EU commission has decided to ban any red tuna fishing in Mediterranean sea from the 16th of June 2008 on. This measure applies to Greek, French, Italian, Cyprus and Malta fleets and from the 23rd of June to Spanish fleets also.


Such an abrupt ban had induced vehement protests from concerned member states and is adding to the ire of professionals attempting to cope with recent gas oil rising prices. The only single category which temporarily avoids this ban is the small scale fleet owners which can continue to fish red tuna but till end November 2008 only, providing that they have yet not fulfilled their own quotas.


This ban applies to industrial fishing, as over 70 % of Mediterranean red tuna catches are made by surface long-liner & pole-and-line vessels as well as by purse net vessels


In France, the « Syndicat des Thoniers de Méditerranée » has expressed its anger about a « décision arbitraire". In a recent press release its states that "Most of the French ship owners are aiming at bankruptcy because of an unfair decision".


On the contrary, in Mauritania, industrial tuna fishing - which belongs to a “special fishing” category - calls for a dedicated license, but is perfectly legal and encounters just no restriction at all.


In addition to EU vessels (compelled to abide to the above explained measures both in Mediterranean waters and in the Mauritanian ones, because of a signed convention between the EU and the Mauritanian government), many other vessels from Japan, Ghana, Senegal, Russia, Ukraine, Cabo Verde, Cyprus, St Vincent & Grenadines, Honduras, Belize, etc… are used to fish tuna in Mauritanian waters.


In Mauritania, tuna fishing is performed under a “Free Licensing” scheme with no restriction regarding trans-shipment in open roadstead. Thanks to this disposal, not only the catch is not disembarked and controlled on a pier but, in addition, the cargo can be freely sold without any Customs constraint.


The principles of free transfer of income being rooted into the Mauritanian legal system; consequently no repatriation of foreign currencies is required by the state either.


These disposals are very attractive on an economic stand point, allowing for the ship owner to use mother ships in order to feed their tuna fishing fleets and also to gather the catch to bring it back home or to sell it somewhere else.


Tuna fishing campaigns can be performed all year around, as tuna shoals move between Senegalese and Mauritanian waters. A wise ship owner can therefore enjoy non-stop tuna fishing providing that he uses both a Senegalese and a Mauritanian fishing license.


“Free licensing” scheme can be granted to foreign vessels intervening (or not) within a bilateral Fishing Agreement framework already existing with another country. However EU member states vessels cannot take advantage of this disposal (as such).


The Free licensing mandatory procedure calls for a preliminary agreement to be established between the foreign ship owner and a Mauritanian representative that he must have (by law) on the spot (Consignatory Agent). The Consignatory Agent is the one who obtains, on behalf of the foreign ship owner, the use of a “Free license” from the Mauritanian authorities.


Once this preliminary prerequisite is achieved (under strict supervision of the Mauritanian authorities), a fishing convention is established between the Consignatory Agent (representing the foreign Ship Owner) and the Mauritanian state which grants a ”Free license” to the foreign fishing boat.  To be noted that each “Free license” is individually allocated to a given boat.


Fees and constraints related to tuna free license fishing scheme are well identified and the license is only valid for 12 months, but can be renewed.  Should these payments not be made on due time, the license would immediately be suspended.


Complementary indications:


·         Types of tuna fish available in Mauritanian-Senegalese waters:

Bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) (Thon rouge)

Yellowfin tuna (Thunnus alabacares) (Thon à nageoires jaunes albacore)

Longfin tuna (Thunnus alalunga) (Thon blanc germon)

Bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus) (Thon obèse)

Atlantic little tunny (Euthynnus alletteratus) (Thonnine de l’atlantique)

Skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis) (Bonite à ventre rayé)

Plain bonito (Orcynopsis unicolor) (Palomète)

Atlantic bonito (Sarda sarda) (Bonite à dos rayé)

Atlantic sailfish (Isotiophorus albicans) (Voilier de l’Atlantique)

White marlin (Tetrapturus albidus) (Marlin blanc)


·         Fishing periods:

In Mauritania from November till end April

In Senegal, From April till end October


·         Restrictions:

Types of authorized fishing gears: All tuna fishing gears

Vessel Gross Rate Tonnage: None

Quantities: None

Fish weigh: None

Fish size: None

Trans-shipment in open roadstead: None




The « Industrial Fishing Department » of ProFortis International Ltd can thoroughly assist you to get tuna fishing licenses  whatever your current vessel flag and provide you with all associated consignatory services.





Industrial Fishing Dpt.

e-mail: industrialfishing@free.fr


+ 33 612 962 978


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