EU casts its net wider

Mozambique has become the fifteenth African nation to grant fishing rights to the European Union (EU). Under the pact, European vessels will be allowed to catch tuna and shrimp off the country's coast for the next three years. Though EU says it would promote sustainable fishing in the region, conservationists warn that the agreement will deplete fish stocks vital for poor African coastal communities. As many as 59 EU vessels will be able to fish beyond a 19-kilometre coastal band in Mozambique. The only saving grace is that half the crew would comprise local fisherfolk. In return, the EU will pay Mozambique US $3.09 million over three years beginning January 2003. While 10 fishing vessels from Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and Greece can catch up to 1,000 tonnes of deep-water shrimp every year, 49 EU boats will fish for tuna with no limit on the catch.