This is the contribution of Mr Sidia Jatta on the fisheries agreement between the EU and The Gambia.
‘‘I like this agreement because I see it as an indictment. Indictment because for 50 years, we have been so called independent, but we have still not learnt to make use of our resources for our own development. That is the indictment. Is like you have petrol, you know you have petrol but because you say you have no capacity, you turn yourself into a beggar, to do what you could have done without being a beggar. This agreement has many technicalities. I have a few questions.
My first question is whether they have identified special places in our ocean where tuna and hake are found to the exclusion of other species? Is it that they have special fishing gears that they use and can only catch tuna and hake? I want that to be made clear to me. If that is not true, and they do not have such special instruments, it means if they catch, they are likely to catch other species. What will they do with them because those are not part of our agreement? I want that also to be made clear.
And the question is, what is the dimension of the area in which this fishing is going to take place by these 41 vessels? Are all these vessels going to be fishing at the same time or what?
You told us that they are migratory, and that is why they (EU) have agreement with all those countries because they are not in all these countries at the same time. There is specific time they are in one place and they can go for them there. That is why they are into agreement with these countries because these species move from one country to the other. But once they are in the Gambia, they are Gambian fish. When they move out of our waters, they are no longer our fish. The member for Wuli East raised a very interesting point that is you commit a crime, and you also determine the penalty of that crime. That is why I say it is an indictment. You do not have the capacity to determine that the crime is committed against you and you do not have the capacity to determine the punishment for that crime. The person doing the crime does it deliberately and also determines the punishment for the crime. 50 euros for a ton of tuna! I do not know how they have come to that, but these are very serious matters to be considered in the agreement, because we are here to defend the interest of our country. Since the first Republic, the European Union has been seeking to have the agreement with the Gambia. I do not know how they never succeeded with the first Republic and they are now succeeding with us. I think we have to look at this very critically. The fact that we do not eat tuna or hake, does not matter. These are our resources. We must develop our capacity since we know that these are our resources, and to tap them for use, for our country. If we export it, we have money. So that where we beg, we will stop being beggars and where we take loans, we stop taking loans, because we have the means to do what the loans would do for us.’’