Thank God were out! Fishing row about to erupt in EU – bloc forced to cough up extra £1.3

Fishing: Ben Habib says relationship with France is ‘unbalanced’

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MEPs will meet later today, on Tuesday, to debate the Fisheries Partnership Agreement reached by the European Commission and the Central African country. Controversy is bound to be sparked – first among EU heads and later in Gabon – about the nature of the deal.

The agreement will enable 27 tuna seiners, six tuna vessels and four trawlers to use Gabonese fishing waters.

The European Commission believes this will “create a framework for cooperation and governance” with Gabon.

But Ben Habib, a former MEP and Chairman of Brexit Watch, insisted that it will end badly for Gabon.

He told Express.co.uk: “Gabon is making a huge error in signing this new fishing deal with the EU.

“The EU claims the agreement will guarantee respect for the fundamental values of its Common Fisheries Policy. What they mean is they intend to fish dry Gabon’s waters.

“They will take to Gabon their industrial-sized fishing vessels and destroy their local environment.”

Fears of environmental damage have also rung out from within the EU.

Caroline Roose MEP of the Europe Ecology group has raised concerns about the impact four EU trawlers, along with other vessels, will have on Gabonese ecosystems.

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Previous fishing agreements between the EU and African nations have faced fury after being accused on contributing to overfishing.

Beatrice Gorez of the Coalition for Fair Fisheries Arrangements last year told SeafoodSource that if exploitation of reserves is to be stopped, leaders must “ensure EU fleets do not have any access to these resources”.

As part of the agreement, the EU must make an annual financial contribution of 1.6million euros (c. £1.4million).

The bloc will also have to contribute a further one million euros per annum for the development of the Gabonese fisheries sector, according to SeafoodSource.

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This comes amid hard financial times for the bloc, with inflation in the eurozone recently rising to 4.9 percent.

This was a record high since the currency was created more than two decades ago.

But while EU heads are likely to insist this is too much, Mr Habib suggests that, considering its losses, the figure is “paltry” for Gabon.

He said: “We know [the EU see fish as a resource to exploit] in the UK. They have destroyed stocks in the North Sea by dredging up the seabed and indiscriminately electrocuting all living creatures within their catch. They kill much more than they want or need and throw back, dead, the surplus.

“Entire habitats are devastated.”

He added: “The Gabonese are about to discover this the hard way. All for a paltry €1.6million per annum.”

Mr Habib issued a firm warning to the Gabonese Government: “Do not do this. Remove the EU from your waters or they will remove your fish. All of them.”

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