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EU Agrees Sustainable Fishing Partnership with the Cook Islands

27 October 2015

EU - The EU and the Cook Islands have reached agreement on a Sustainable Fishing Partnership Agreement (SFPA) and a Fisheries Protocol during negotiations held in Brussels on 19-21 October.

The Protocol will allow four purse seiners to fish in the Cook Islands' waters for the next four years.

This agreement will expand the area of operations for the EU fleet in the western and central Pacific Ocean, the world's most important tuna fishing grounds providing more than half of the global tuna catch. In exchange to this access, the Cook Islands will receive a financial contribution. Fishing opportunities under other EU agreements in the Pacific have traditionally been very well utilised.

This is the first SFPA negotiated by the EU and the Cook Islands, whose history of co-operation and partnership started in June 2000, in the framework of the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement (Cotonu Agreement).

EU fishing vessels operating in the Cook Islands fishery waters will be subject to national laws and to conservation and management measures adopted within the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.

In line with those measures the Cook Islands have declared a maximum allowable catch for their EEZ and made it available to foreign fleets in the absence of domestic vessels. The fishing opportunities for the EU under the new SFPA will remain within that ceiling.

In addition to paying for fishing access, the EU will grant money to support the Cook Islands in implementing their fisheries and maritime policy. Cook Islands fishing communities will benefit directly from this additional support.

The texts agreed during a first round of negotiations in July 2013 have been refined to strengthen provisions related to catch recording and reporting, as well as provisions dealing with the monitoring, control and surveillance of the activities of the EU fleet.

Tuna is a key resource for the social and economic well-being of Pacific nations and their people. In line with the EU's reformed Common Fisheries Policy, the conclusion of this SFPA allows both parties to initiate a dialogue on fisheries governance and to encourage sustainable and responsible fishing. It will also reinforce cooperation between the two parties, especially in their fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

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