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Mauritania Signs Fishing Deal with China

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Uploaded on Jun 28, 2011

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In Africa, the country of Mauritania granted a quarter-century fishing liscense to a Chinese fishing firm. While Mauritanian officials say it will benefit the country, many disagree.

Mauritania's government has recently signed a 25-year deal with Chinese fishing company Poly Hon Done Pelagic Fishery. The agreement will let Chinese trawlers fish in Mauritanian waters, but local fishermen, green activists and opposition lawyers all say all it will do the poor African country is cause more harm than help.

Local fishermen see the new deal as not only unfair, but also dangerous.

[Cheikhany Ould Amar, VP, National Federation of Fisheries]:
"The presence of this Chinese fleet is a threat for the Mauritanian fleet. First because of the pressure on the resources, second because of unfair competition and third because of the benefits this company is giving them and which make them dominate the fishing industry."

In exchange for access to Mauritanian waters, the Chinese regime will provide a 100 million US dollar investment, which will be used to build a processing factory, a training center for Mauritanians and a traditional boat manufacturing site.

Mauritanians, however, fear their own inferior traditional ships will be in no condition to compete with Chinese trawlers for already scarce fish supplies. When fishing makes up around 10 percent of Mauritania's gross domestic product and up to 50 percent of its export earnings, there is indeed reason for worry.

[Hanine, Fish Broker]:
"Mauritanian business people who invested here, built plants, will face very tough competition. They employ only Mauritanians, these are Mauritanians investments, they will face a lot of competition. Besides, they already have problems to find fish and when the Chinese will come there will almost be no fish left for them, so these local investors are bound to go bankrupt."

The deal is set to provide 2,000 jobs for locals, but critics say roughly 40,000 jobs will be lost. Mauritanians in need will lose a vital source of protein. Also a concern for environmentalists is that there is no guarantee that the Chinese company will stop fishing before all supplies are depleted.

Mauritanian officials hope the deal will help their country, but this is not the first time the Chinese regime has made deals that were disadvantageous for developing African nations.

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