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Malaita Development Authority
AUKI, Malaita Province
Att. Mr. Jonathan Malai, Chairman
Dear Mr. Malai
Thank you very much for Your letter. I received it on March 8th. I am very touched by Your description of the situation of the Salomon fishermen, and I have taken some initiatives.
I have written letters to the Danish Folketing (our Parliament) and our Government and the Fishery and other Commissions in the European Union. I have attached a copy of your letter, and then posed the questions that your can read in the copy attached to this letter.
I wrote a.o.:
“On behalf of the Danish Society for A Living Sea and the Chairman of the Malaita Development Authorities, Mr. Jonathan Malai we hereby request that you discuss this matter. A.o. with the purpose the get the Minister’s explanation and comments to this EU Fishery Agreement.
EU recently made an agreement with the Salomon Islands. The agreement means that for the sum of EURO 400.000, fishermen from the Union can catch 6.000 tons of e.g. Tunar Fish. The fishermen who are to catch the fish (10 long line vessels and 4 trawlers from Spain and France) pay app. EURO 200.000 for a fishing permit. The permit must be estimated to represent a value of EURO 60 million. Thus, EU redirects less than 1 % of the values caught back to the population of the Salomon Islands – is that justice done?
- Attached to this letter please find an article written by The Danish Society for a Living Sea and a copy of a letter from the Salomon Islands and of the EU agreement.
In the agreement it says that,
- The agreement expresses a “true partnership between the EU and the Salomon Islands”. Does the Council agree with this conclusion?
- “Vessels from the EU must fish outside 30 miles, to remove any risk of competition with the local fleet”. Do you and the council recognise this characterisation from the European coastal fishery: that if others fish beyond 30 miles, then the coastal fishery suffers no harm? Is it acceptable that the Political Union that Denmark is a member of, expresses this kind of none documented assumptions, to promote our own interests and to harm the population of the Salomon Islands, acc. To the letter from the Salomon Islands.
- What are the possibilities and the intentions of the Danish Government to secure the rights of the Salomon fishermen and the population of the islands?
- Is this particular agreement between EU and a Third World Country, where the economical compensation is app. 1 % of the values that the European fishermen catch there, exemplary; one of many?”
It will take some time before we can get a reaction from these letters, but when we receive the answers I will send them to you with my comments.
I attach to you some materials on The Danish Society, a.o. our latest report from the fishery project in Kazakstan, by the Aral Sea. It is a master plan drawn for the World Bank, and other donors, who after 10 years of work finally have shown their interest and donations in the Aralsk area.
Living Sea has some activities outside Denmark. I just returned from a preliminary study in the coastal fishery in Eritrea. The authorities of Eritrea want to build a sustainable coastal fishery, and this appears to be a task that we can help solving in the Danish Society.
In December 2003 we tried to contact you. A Steering Committee member from our Society, fishing skipper Henning Thoegersen was in Malaysia, and he would have travelled on to the Salomon Islands to experience the situation. But we didn’t manage to reach contact, so we gave it up.
I don’t know whether we can offer any reasonable support to the fishery so far away from Denmark. But I am willing to investigate. Apparently, we cannot do much without having our expenses covered. There will be no expenses to wages, but of course we need to have our travel expenses and accommodation covered. My suggestion could be that I and another fisherman from the society visit the Salomon Islands to study the fishery. On the basis of this study we could apply for funding in the EU/Denmark for a project supporting the coastal fishery. Before this, I will need to investigate the relations between EU/Denmark and the Salomon Islands further. The support that we offer is normally as fishery equipment and transfer of knowledge and experiences between fishermen, and support to capacity building in the fishery and in the fishery organisations and their ability to explain their living conditions and needs.
From Living Sea and I, our god wishes go to the fishery and the fishermen of the Salomon Islands. I promise to do what is in my power to investigate this matter and to follow it.
- From this day on, I consider you members of the Danish Society for a Living Sea, and the member fee (US$ 50) you can pay when we meet in the Salomon Islands
Kurt Bertelsen Christensen
Chairman for Living Sea
Ferring Strand the 12/3 2004