Sumaila comparing european and chinese access in west africa

Euros vs. Yuan: Comparing European and Chinese Fishing Access in West Africa

Dyhia Belhabib1*, U. Rashid Sumaila2, Vicky W. Y. Lam1, Dirk Zeller1, Philippe Le Billon3,
Elimane Abou Kane4, Daniel Pauly1
1 Sea Around Us, Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, 2202 Main Mall, Vancouver, Canada, 2
Fisheries Economics Research Unit, Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, 2202 Main Mall,
Vancouver, Canada, 3 Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, 1984 West Mall,
Vancouver, BC, Canada, 4 Oceanographic and Fisheries Mauritanian Research Institute, BP. 22
Nouadhibou, Mauritania

We compare the performance of European Union (EU) and Chinese fisheries access agreements
with West African countries in terms of illegal and unreported fishing, economic equity,
and patterns of exploitation. Bottom-up re-estimations of catch reveal that the EU (1.6
million t•year-1) and China (2.3 million t•year-1) report only 29% and 8%, respectively, of
their estimated total catches (including estimated discards whenever possible) from West
African countries between 2000 and 2010. EU catches are declining, while Chinese catches
are increasing and are yet to reach the historic maximum level of EU catches (3 million
t•year-1 on average in the 1970s-1980s). The monetary value of EU fishing agreements,
correlated in theory with reported catches, is straightforward to access, in contrast to Chinese
agreements. However, once quantified, the value of Chinese agreements is readily
traceable within the African economy through the different projects they directly cover, in
contrast to the funds disbursed [to host governments] by the EU. Overall, China provides resources
equivalent to about 4% of the ex-vessel value [value at landing] of the catch taken
by Chinese distant-water fleets from West African waters, while the EU pays 8%. We address
the difficulties of separating fees directly related to fishing from other economic or political
motivations for Chinese fees, which could introduce a bias to the present findings as
this operation is not performed for EU access fees officially related to fishing. Our study reveals
that the EU and China perform similarly in terms of illegal fishing, patterns of exploitation
and sustainability of resource use, while under-reporting by the EU increases and that
by China decreases. The EU agreements provide, in theory, room for improving scientific
research, monitoring and surveillance, suggesting a better performance than for Chinese
agreements, but the end-use of the EU funds are more difficult, and sometime impossible
to ascertain.

Funding: This is a contribution of the Sea Around Us
toward the project "Marine Conservation Research,
Collaboration and Support in West Africa", funded by
the MAVA Foundation. The Sea Around Us is
supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Paul
G. Allen Family Foundation. The funders had no role
in study design, data collection and analysis, decision
to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.