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West Africa & the New European Common Fisheries Policy: Impacts & Implications


This chapter examines how the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) has historically affected fisheries in West Africa, and how recently enacted reforms to the CFP may alter or perpetuate trends in this relationship. The CFP’s historical impacts on West African states are explored through its various policy tools, as well as how CFP changes might affect relations between these countries and the EU, with implications for their wider economies.

West African states represent some of Europe’s closest neighbors, and the waters comprising their Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) are some of the most productive fishing grounds for European fleets. The interests of European fishing nations and those of coastal West African states have often been at odds, however, and scholars have argued that the combined CFP policies have led to a range of consequences, from degraded habitat and diminished stocks to conflicts between domestic and foreign fishers and stymied local economies.

This historical legacy is here examined, using existing data and studies to assess these claims. Furthermore, the profound impacts of the EU CFP far beyond European waters are demonstrated, along with the possible impacts of recent changes in the EU CFP for West African fisheries. Multiple policies and reforms are addressed, including the discard ban, the implementation of Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY), and the establishment of Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreements (SFPAs). The implications for West African fisheries are tremendous but also uncertain, and much will depend on the implementation of the rules in distant waters.

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